Haskell bullish about England Under Eddie Jones

Haskell bullish about England Under Eddie Jones

England flanker praises new coach from the enhanced fitness levels to greater sense of individual responsibility entrusted in them on and off field

England flanker, James Haskell, believes that the fitness work being done under the new regime of Eddie Jones is ‘more relevant’ to the demands of the test arena than it was during the Rugby World Cup when Stuart Lancaster was in charge.

Haskell’s pointed observation came on a day when Jones himself repeated his assertion that the England squad were not yet fit enough for the faster-paced levels required for the modern international game.

Haskell confirms Jones’ view that even within the four weeks in which he has been in charge, those standards have risen, by as much as ‘30 per cent' according to the head coach, all designed to make an immediate impact on England’s prospects for Saturday’s RBS Six Nations match against Ireland at Twickenham.

We did so much fitness work before the World Cup but it wasn’t relevant because our games never went to those levels,” said Haskell.

“That (pre-World Cup) was probably the hardest fitness camp I have ever been involved with. It was very tough. But the ball-in-play time during the World Cup didn’t bring the games to the intensity we wanted. What we are trying to do now is build a fitness that is relevant to the style we want to play and play at that intensity. That is the difference.”

England showed that sense of renewed collective purpose, and the benefits of tailored conditioning, against Italy, upping the tempo after half-time and running in four second-half tries.


Eddie Jones at an England press conference

England showed that sense of renewed collective purpose, and the benefits of tailored conditioning, against Italy, upping the tempo after half-time and running in four second-half tries.

That broad strategy, of first softening-up the opposition and then hitting hard in the closing stages with judicious use of the replacement bench, had been outlined beforehand by Jones.

The 56-year-old has been conducting short, sharp training sessions with a view eventually to go toe-to-toe with the southern hemisphere sides who have long played with higher ball-in-play output. Even though Jones acknowledges the good work being done by the English clubs in preparing their players for the Premiership, he is adamant that it is incompatible with the enhanced demands of the international game.

They (the players) are not right for international rugby, that is the distinction,” Jones told Radio 4’s Today programme.

“They’re right for club rugby. They can play club rugby 365 days of the year but international rugby is faster, there are more accelerations, the running speed is higher and you need to have a different sort of training for it. I have been impressed with how professional and well-structured the clubs are.

"They have got strength-and-conditioning and medical staff at rates nowhere else in the world have. You have got to remember they are coaching players to be successful at club level and that is 100 per cent right. But we have got to get them to understand and the players to understand, that to be successful at international level, there is a plus factor there.”

That upturn is already in evidence and England will need to summon all those reserves of energy if they are to maintain their unbeaten record against defending back-to-back champions Ireland at Twickenham, even if Joe Schmidt’s side are depleted by injury and tend to play an attritional, kicking-based game.

Haskell is bullish about England’s renewed direction under Jones, from the enhanced fitness levels to the greater sense of individual responsibility entrusted in them, on and off the field. Certainly there has been no attempt to suppress the naturally larger-than-life character of Haskell.




The coaches have empowered the players, enabled them to improve and letting them be themselves,” said Haskell.

“They are letting us do stuff, be positive and have the senior players run things. As regards fitness, we all wear the GPS vests, the heart-rate monitors and all that kind of stuff. We review training in terms of how quickly you get back into position and re-set, what your explosive metres are, how many high-speed metres you have. From the first session to where we are now, four weeks later, you can see that progression. Whenever I am playing, I am thinking about it now.

"Eddie demands the right attitude and intensity in everything you do. England is not a place you want to be comfortable and relaxed. It is one thing being beaten by a better team but it is another thing not to show the right attitude. Eddie is driving a certain style of play. A lot of people have fitness inside them but it is about being able to go to that place repeatedly and understand what it feels like to suffer.

"Some of the best players don’t test particularly well but they are able to dig in during those intense moments when the play has been in play for four or five minutes. Everything about training is very intense. So I do feel in a better place.”

– Entry was posted on February 23rd, 2016 by James Haskell
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