James Haskell sets toe agony aside to inspire England's Wallabies whitewash
James Haskell has revealed he played through the pain of his debilitating toe injury while producing a man-of-the-series performance in England's summer Test whitewash in Australia.
The 31-year-old hopes to be fit by the end of November, but has ruled out any slim chance of featuring in England's autumn internationals.
The 70-cap back-rower hobbled off in the closing stages of England's series-clinching 23-7 second Test win in Melbourne on June 18, later being ruled out for up to six months. Haskell's stunning performances in England's two opening victories in Australia in June are now rendered all the more remarkable given the Wasps flanker has admitted he was already suffering his toe problem.
"I've written off the November Tests in my mind, just because if I was able to get into a position to do that it would be a massive bonus," Haskell told Press Association Sport."When I heard about that scenario I was clear with myself I wasn't going to be able to do it. I had five minutes of the depths of despair when I found out I could be out for so long."Then I just realised it was a great opportunity to come back better, fitter, more mobile and in better shape.
"I was pretty badly injured before the second Test in Australia to be honest with you. I was playing with anaesthetic in my foot for the last five games of the season. I wasn't doing a lot of training in the week."Eddie (Jones) and his coaching staff were amazing, the medical staff looked after me really well."I knew I would have to get the toe fixed at some point. Then it just got worse and worse and worse and then I really damaged it in the second Test but it was already not in a great shape."
“I reconciled in my head that I would need to get it sorted. But I thought I'd be back for the autumn internationals, because I didn't realise how bad it would be. Then again you could get injured falling down a step."
“The surgeon is surprised how well I'm doing and hopefully I'll be out of the compression boot in the next couple of weeks."Then I can start weight-bearing through my foot. If I run too soon I could split the internal stitching."What I'm most looking forward to is getting this boot off then running again. Then hopefully everything else will take care of itself."
“Someone else will come into my shirt and play well for England, that's just a fact of life. The most important thing is for me to get fit and get back playing well for Wasps."
Haskell insists he would not swap England's maiden Test series victory against the Wallabies in Australia for a clean bill of health, believing boss Eddie Jones'ruthless streak is rubbing off on his squad.
England will start their autumn series against South Africa at Twickenham on November 12 and Haskell knows despite the summer's exploits that Jones'approach will be to start back at square one."The boys did fantastically well in the summer; I was a small part of that," said Haskell."And I would take being injured all over again to be able to have done what we managed out there. Just because of the impact it's had on people back here."I can't believe how many people have come up to me and said how good it was."I think it gave a real feel-good factor. But everyone knows now that it starts all over again for the autumn."
Eddie's man management is something he does better than anyone. He knows how to get the best out of players. He knows some boys need the stick and others the carrot."It doesn't matter who you are, if you're not working hard all the time you're going to be left behind. He's ruthless in those ways and I think it's great."
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