James Haskell likes life in Coventry
As he edges towards a Wasps return from long term injury James Haskell admits he likes life in Coventry as he edges towards his Wasps return.
Other than a brief interlude of rugby back-packing, England flanker James Haskell has spent his whole career at Wasps. Those stints in France, New Zealand and Japan doubtless helped him become the player he is and few would bet against him adding British Lions honours to his 70 England caps before 2017 is out.
But at the moment, after a six month stint on the sidelines with a particularly nasty toe injury, Wasps' former skipper‘s ambitions are limited to making a return to the black-and-gold.
Haskell is clearly itching to get back on the pitch and doubtless cast an envious eye at his fellow long-term absentee Kurtley Beale's return against Connacht on Sunday.
If England's current player-of-the-year is able to make the same impact Beale managed in his comeback game, Dai Young will be a happy man, and Wasps' director of rugby has advised the moment of truth is likely to be reached in early January.
"It's always difficult with foot injuries to exactly nail down a return date, and it is now looking likely to be nearer the New Year than this side of Christmas," he reports. "There's nothing to worry about, it's just a question of making sure he comes through all his rehab safe and sound and isn't rushed.”
"That's pretty much exactly what we did with Kurtley. He'd been back in training three weeks, but we obviously played that down a bit as we didn't want to give Connacht a head start in knowing he'd play against them on Sunday, even thought that was always likely to be the case.”
"The important thing is not to rush anyone back to ensure when they are back they're back for good rather than bouncing out the other way again.
"Hask is doing really well, he's running and changing direction. We were hoping that he would be back around Christmas and it now looks like it will be just after rather than before, but the worst is definitely behind him."
The longest absence of his playing career has at least allowed Wasps' former skipper a good opportunity to settle into life in the Midlands and to step back and assess the progress being made at the club he first joined way back in 2002.
"Being settled up here full-time and being embraced by the local people is great for the club," the big flanker says. "Home games are now home games, so we can all spend a bit of time at home before driving to the stadium on matchdays rather than sitting on a coach for three hours or travelling the day before and staying in a hotel.
"The temporary training ground at Broadstreet has also been really good for us and the boys have really enjoyed being there."
Haskell has spent much of his rehab period working alone, or with other long-term absentees including Beale, but has still been able to appreciate what is going on around him in the club's new working environment.
"Winning consistently breeds winning," he says, "and life's a much better place when you're not losing. "From what I can see of the training, Dai and the coaches are pushing the boys very hard. Dai has always been an excellent coach and now he has a squad that matches his level he is doing really well.
“He has brought different coaches in - obviously Phil Blake has arrived and made an impact and Lee Blackett is doing very well. Across the board there is a good atmosphere, training is very intense and it's bringing results, which you obviously can't argue with."
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