Haskell tells England he is up for the selection fight as he is "haunted by the fear" of not fulfilling his talent
The talk is of ‘new’ England, but James Haskell has heard it all before.
New head coach - he has already worked with three. New captain - he's played under nine.
Haskell is England’s longest-serving active international, which makes him vulnerable to new broom Eddie Jones, who will watch him on Saturday.
Already swept away have been the entire Red Rose coaching team. And Chris Robshaw appears set to lose the captaincy, if not his place.
Out with the old seems to be the theme yet here is Haskell, preparing to lead Wasps into European Cup battle at Bath, refusing to give in.
“I’m 30, I’m not 35, I’ve still got a lot to give,” said a player with 62 caps won over nine seasons. “I’m as determined as ever to play for England. Maybe my face doesn’t fit any more or I’m not needed. We’ll wait and see.
“But I won’t stop pushing. I’m haunted by the fear of not fulfilling my talent.”
Since his Test debut in 2007, Haskell has been selected by Brian Ashton, Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster.
His first England captain was Mike Catt. Since then he has served under Phil Vickery, Steve Borthwick, Lewis Moody, Nick Easter, Mike Tindall, Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood and Robshaw.
With thriving business interests and the responsibility of captaining a club going places since its move to Coventry, you might think the time is right for him to forego Team Jones.
He does not agree.
“I wake up every day and make notes about how I can get better and what I want to do to improve,” said Haskell. “You’ve only got one opportunity, one career, you have to make the most of it.
“I’ll keep playing trying to get selected, trying to be the first name on the team sheet, until someone taps me on the shoulder and says ‘You’re not good enough’, or my body has let me down.”
Since his emergence at Wasps as an 18-year-old in 2003, Haskell has sought to emulate his great hero Lawrence Dallaglio.
Therein lies a major clue as to his continued drive. For while he has earned plaudits playing in France, Japan and New Zealand as well as here, his trophy haul cannot begin to compete with that of Dallaglio.
“I know a lot of people think I think I’m the best thing since sliced bread. I can assure you that’s not the case,” he said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done but I know my CV is short on silverware.
“People always compare me to Lawrence. The guy was a hero who won everything. I can’t compete with him. Not now, but I am far from finished.”
Take note England.
In this age of renewal your ‘old’ boy is up for the fight.
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