Rugby World Cup 2015: James Haskell defends Stuart Lancaster after England RWC failure
Stuart Lancaster's fate will be decided by an RFU panel tasked with identifying the flaws which led to England early World Cup exit.
James Haskell, the England forward, has come to the defence of beleaguered coach Stuart Lancaster as he faces the axe in the wake of his squad's dreadful World Cup performance. Lancaster’s fate will be decided by an RFU panel tasked with identifying the flaws which led to England being knocked out in the pool stages after losing to Wales and Australia.
The head coach has already faced criticism for creating a "classroom-orientated environment" at the squad's remote training base at Pennyhill Park, and was accused of treating players like "schoolboys" by former England captain Will Carling. But Haskell, who has returned to Wasps as captain, defended both the "culture" and "atmosphere" under Lancaster’s regime.
"I always had a really good relationship with Stuart, I think in terms of the work from 2011 he's been fantastic," the 30-year-old said. "Obviously the results haven't gone our way but I think that he was just developing a really good atmosphere, a very good culture at that level.
Asked if Lancaster should be spared by the RFU's panel, which includes World Cup winner Ben Kay and former Scotland coach Sir Ian McGeechan, he said: "It's not really for me to say because it's irrelevant whether I want him to stay or go. I've got no power over it.”
"While I have one eye on what England are doing ultimately my job is here at Wasps. My job is to perform here and improve where we left off with England." Lancaster’s critics have suggested that England may have felt suffocated by the coach’s strict training regime, which emphasised discipline and patriotism, and featured history lessons on English rugby.
Weighing up his own performance for England, Haskell said: "I didn't really play a lot. It's important to make sure that I do justice here [at Wasps] because I've got a big responsibility as captain. “ Haskell has also defended his own performances Wasps, who lost 26-21 to Harlequins last week, will face Bath this Saturday for their second match of the Aviva Premiership.
“I’m really excited to be back at the Wasps,” said Haskell, “the squad looks very different from when I left it. “I’m looking forward to it. Bath were unlucky to have narrowly missed out with the Premiership last year, when we played them at home, certainly that was the best attacking pack I’ve ever faced.”
“It’s great to come back, I’ve been really excited about the season because of all the players we’ve signed. George Smith is one of the guys I’ve looked up to throughout my career, to get a chance to play with him as opposed to against him all the time is a tremendous bonus as well as an honour”.
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