Haskell vows to heed warning
James Haskell vows to heed warning as England flanker insists: I can't be one of Eddie Jones' bad boys
James Haskell has insisted that neither he nor any England team-mates are in danger of becoming complacent - after Eddie Jones’ warning last week about bad attitudes and falling standards.
The Wasps captain will go into Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens, who have a large contingent from the national squad in their ranks, adamant that he is fully committed to keep justifying his place in Jones’ England plans.
The head coach spoke last week about the spectre of players being pampered and believing their own hype, but Haskell rejected the notion that a high profile away from the game was necessarily cause for concern.
Asked if he or his club-mates might be among those ‘four or five’ Red Rose stars that Jones claimed were in danger of missing the June tour of Australia due to poor performances and a lack of effort,
Haskell said: ‘I hope not. Certainly I don’t - and none of the players I know do either - take anything for granted when it comes to England. You have to be at your best 100 per cent of the time.
‘He (Jones) set us the challenge of making sure we come back to our clubs and are the best players or right up there. If some are failing to do that then I’m sure Eddie will let them know about it. But as far I’m concerned it’s not us (at Wasps), unless he hasn’t told me!’
There was speculation last week that Jones was alarmed to see certain players being too prominent with their appearances on social media, on TV and at other prominent events since the Grand Slam success.
However, Haskell, who willingly embraces life in the public eye, said: ‘I don’t think it’s relevant. As long as you’re training hard and performing well, it doesn’t matter if you’re fired out of a rocket, as far as I’m concerned anyway. He’s not said that to me.’
The alternative, conspiracy theory is that there are not actually a handful of under-performing England players and that, instead, Jones is simply using a ploy to galvanise his entire squad at the end of a long season. If that is the canny tactic, Haskell can understand the logic.
‘I think it’s a commonsense statement,’ said the flanker. ‘It’s something that a coach striving to get the best out of his players understands; that it’s very difficult to have an emotional high of a Six Nations and come back and consistently perform — and you’re only as good as your last game.
‘It’s the same for every player, so I think Eddie’s just making sure no-one’s under any illusions that you have to be at your best. He’s not spoken to the squad about that, he just understands that you have to keep playing and keep improving.
‘It’s important to understand that while we’re making progress, the Six Nations was good, but were we good enough to compete with southern hemisphere sides? Arguably not at times. Do we want to keep improving? Yes.
‘If some players needed that rev-up, that was good, but I think it was pretty obvious. I thought that in camp. Every time we played a game I was looking over my shoulder, and I think any good player does that — no-one takes it for granted.’
Saracens lock George Kruis, another stalwart of the Slam success, echoed Haskell’s sentiments, telling the BBC: ‘It’s clever from Eddie. I check my phone every now and then to see if it’s me. It’s fair from him. If we are international players we need to be playing like them.
‘He made a big point that when we go back to our clubs we should be the best ones there, putting in the biggest shifts, and trying the hardest. He’s the type of man that if you’re not doing what you should be doing then he’ll let you know pretty quickly.’
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