James Haskell fit and ready to play 'big part' for England in Six Nations
James Haskell is fit and ready to play 'big part' for England in Six Nations.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young is confident James Haskell can play a significant role in England's 2017 Six Nations Grand Slam defence, despite having only played 35 seconds of rugby since the summer tour to Australia.
Haskell lasted less than a minute in his comeback appearance off the bench against Leicester 10 days ago, before knocking himself out in a tackle, but Young revealed that the back-row forward will start their Champions' Cup game against Zebre before heading into England's training camp in Portugal ahead of the opening fixture against France at Twickenham on February 4.
"James will play a really big part in England's campaign," said Young. "He has trained fully with us for four weeks and has come through with flying colours. He has passed all the protocols to return to play and will start at either six of seven against Zebre. He is busting to get out there.
"In an ideal world, of course, he'd rather have a bit more game time under his belt but he is experienced enough to cope. He has been round the block enough for it not to faze him. Sometimes it is more of a confidence thing for a player that has been out and that's not something James struggles with. He'll be all right."
Haskell has thrived in the Jones regime, starting every game on the open-side flank until aggravating a toe injury in the second Test in Melbourne. Although Haskell was not able to weight-bear on his foot until well into his rehab process, Young says that the flanker has always been supremely well-conditioned and will be able to slot straight back into the rhythm and intensity of a Test match.
Jones has made a point, too, of keeping Haskell involved, inviting him down to England's Pennyhill Park training base during his lay-off. "James certainly feels a lot more confident and valued in this set-up and his performances on the field support that," said Young. "He has gone out there and played some of his best stuff. Eddie has valued his input to the squad. It's the same with us.
Even though not playing, James's opinion is valuable. "He always sets high standards and will be no different with England. From the sessions James has done with us, he looks totally comfortable. He doesn't need loads of time to get up to speed. His heart and lungs have never been far away in terms of fitness. And he brings so much enthusiasm. He can do a job."
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Posted on January 4th, 2017