Ask the Welsh boys what Sampson’s nickname is
Joe Marler hearing: James Haskell adds twist to gypsy tale
ENGLAND rugby star James Haskell sparked a new twist in the Samson Lee ‘gypsy boy’ storm last night.
Red Rose team-mate Joe Marler is sweating on a minimum four-week ban for verbal abuse after aiming the derogatory remark at the Wales prop in the Six Nations clash at Twickenham on March 12.
But Haskell dropped a massive hint Lee, 23, is called that by his OWN Wales team-mates.
Marler, 25, will finally find out his fate on Wednesday in front of a World Rugby hearing.
The Rugby Players’ Association launched a stinging attack on rugby chiefs for what they deem as hanging the Harlequins forward out to dry.
Haskell said: “I never condone racism anywhere.
“But go and ask what Samson Lee’s nickname in the squad is. Ask the Welsh boys what that is.
“I think it’s rubbish and don’t know why everyone is banging on about it.
“It’s very boring and we all just want to get back to playing rugby. I feel very sorry for Joe because he’s a lovely bloke and as RPA boss Damian Hopley said he’s not a racist. Racism is not acceptable.”
England boss Eddie Jones gave Marler a dressing down and reminded him of his responsibilities.
Haskell, who is back for Wasps against Northampton Saints on Sunday after a week off, added: “I think it has been dealt with five times.”
James Haskell on TalkSPORT Radio
Eddie Jones won’t allow England to get carried away with Grand Slam triumph – James Haskell
James Haskell has told talkSPORT England head coach Eddie Jones will keep the team grounded after their Six Nations triumph, insisting there are tougher tests on the horizon.
England battled to a 31-21 win over France in their final Test on Saturday, to secure their first Grand Slam in 13 years and lift the first trophy under new Australian boss Jones at Stade de France.
Many have questioned the quality of this year’s tournament, with England running away with the victory despite never really hitting their top gear.
Flanker Haskell insists the achievement cannot be underestimated, saying he will relish the win for some time, but admits the squad will not be allowed to get carried away with their early success in Jones’ reign.
When the Six Nations celebrations die down, England will begin to look ahead to their three-Test tour of Australia in June, and Haskell insists there is plenty of more work to be done to ensure England can compete.
“Eddie has spoken about the fact that we haven’t really started yet, but we’re not getting carried away,” the Wasps captain told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.
“It’s important to relish these moments and opportunities. I think only about 35 England teams have ever won the Grand Slam, and the last one was 13 years ago.
“As a player, you never look back throughout your career and allow yourself to reflect and before you know it you’ve retired and you didn’t appreciate those big moments. So I want to hold on to this for as long as possible.
“But we know Australia, New Zealand and the like are a different level. Eddie has instilled a lot of faith and we know we’ve got a lot more hard work to do.
“That’s his message, he puts us through our paces. We’ve been waking up at 6:30am and we’re still working to 8 or 9 in the evening, but you have to make sacrifices to win. He’s reinstalled that in us and we want to make sure we go on and get the results.”
Six Nations team of the Tournament
Lies, more lies and damned lies!
Fellow back row forward Billy Vunipola told BBC Sport this week that he and Haskell never used to talk but had bonded under the current England regime.
Yet Haskell denied his former Wasps team-mate's claim, adding: "I'm very disappointed with Billy for making up horrific lies!
I have asked him about it and he said he was bored. No doubt because there isn’t a KFC near Pennyhill Park!
"The truth of the matter is I have always talked to Billy but it was very difficult to get a word in edgeways because he was normally off-site in the nearest KFC.
"He was also quite big-time when I returned to Wasps, so he didn't really give me the time of day. He was a bit of a cult hero there. Then of course he took the cash and ran away to Saracens.”
“I would like to set the record right we have always spoken and always got on very well, so hopefully he won't get bored again and repeat the libel!"
Jones the dragon-slayer
The return heavyweight bout between England and Wales lived up to its billing as the most thumping rugby match of the Six Nations. It was also the perfect result for both sides.
England’s win brings the Grand Slam in sight, but Wales get to feel smug that they could have won if they had played on for a couple more minutes against an England team clutching at air with the bench emptied and the two leaders, Dylan Hartley and Chris Robshaw, withdrawn.
There’s nothing the Welsh like more in the absence of a win than claiming the moral high ground. In a masterstroke of man-management, the England coach Eddie Jones — who will presumably soon be walking to work on water — singled out Robshaw as his player of the season.
That’s the very same man very publicly iced as skipper after the World Cup. I’m not sure he was the very best player — Vunipola, Ben Youngs and James Haskell have all been pretty good — but how astute of Jones to single out the man with most reason to feel aggrieved. The captain who is quite happy to return to the ranks and still give it everything is a rare beast.
Both Eddie Jones and the Welsh coach Warren Gatland are tough former hookers who don’t like to give an inch. Their mindset is built on ruthless defence and, in Warrenball’s case, sending very big men at speed in the straightest line. It brought two grand slams for Wales.
Now Jones’s England have taken the upper hand, with a superb back row denying the Welsh any ball. The post-2003 experiment of using home-country coaches — Johnson, Robinson and Lancaster — just didn’t work out. But the Antipodean will to win has done the trick, first for Wales and now for England. As Jones says, you don’t want to beat teams with just a strong defence.
We can’t wait to see where he will take England
I want us to be the best in the World
Head Coach Eddie Jones says he will not be satisfied until England are the best team in the World and winning a Grand Slam on Saturday will be a step closer to that goal.
England were crowned RBS 6 Nations champions on Sunday following Scotland’s win over France but Jones only sees it as a stepping stone towards their ultimate goal.
“I can’t say I’m satisfied really, I’ll be satisfied with England when they become the number one team in the world," said Jones. "That’s the whole aim in coming here.
“It’s a nice little step for us it’s nice to get a trophy but we’ve got bigger fish to fry and one of those is the Grand Slam on Saturday.”
England will face France in Paris on Saturday in the final round of the RBS 6 Nations chasing their first Grand Slam since 2003.
Jones continued: “We’ve got to be really right for the game, we’ve got to absolutely crush them with our intensity and that’s what we’re going to make sure we have this week.
“They’re going to have isolated moments of brilliance.”
England have finished second in the RBS 6 Nations for the past four years and were denied the chance to claim a Grand Slam during that time, but Jones believes the squad are in a better place this time around.
“I went around and talked to a couple of the players who had experienced those Grand Slam opportunities and asked if there was anything we could learn from them," he said.
“The underlying thought was you can never underestimate an opposition team in Test match rugby.”
England flanker James Haskell has started all four games in the tournament and Jones hailed the defensive work rate of the 30 year-old Wasps forward.
“Haskell’s been criticised left, right and centre and he probably enjoys the criticism," said Jones. "He’s been outstanding in defence, he really hits people and he’s going to have a big job on Saturday.”
“My satisfaction comes from seeing the players happy and I am really pleased they’ve managed to turn this around. It’s always been said they are full of talent and they are using that talent now.”
England v Wales Team
England Coach vows not to speak to the Media
Eddie Jones media blackout: England coach won't speak to media in build-up to Wales clash
England head coach Eddie Jones is to implement a self-imposed media blackout in response to the outcry over his comments that he was concerned for the welfare of Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton.
Jones heightened tension between the rival camps before Saturday's 21-10 RBS 6 Nations victory at Twickenham by stating that Sexton's parents "would be worried" about the whiplash injury the British and Irish Lion suffered against France.
Jones' willingness to bring Sexton's family into his pre-match gamesmanship was widely condemned and is known to have been viewed dimly within the Irish camp, but the Australian has no regrets and will not speak to the media again for almost two weeks.
"From this press conference onwards I'm putting a media ban on myself," Jones said at a feisty post-match press conference.
"I don't want to do any scaremongering or do anything that offends the media or offends people's parents.
"From now until next Friday before the Wales game I'm not talking to the media. So no-one will have to worry about scaremongering and all that type of thing.
"Mate, if I don't say anything you come away from the press conference and say it's boring.
"If I say something I'm scaremongering. I can't win, so the easiest way is that I don't come to the media conference."
When asked if he regretted mentioning Sexton's parents, Jones replied: "I don't regret anything. Why would I regret it? Ireland said he had whiplash injuries, not me.
"It's a sideshow - it's finished. The main event is over. We're not talking about the sideshow any more."
Itoje and Marler start for England
Eddie Jones has named second row Maro Itoje (Saracens) and loose-head prop Joe Marler (Harlequins) in his starting 15 to face Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday
"Everyone is pushing hard to be in contention so there were some tight calls on selection." Marler and Itoje replace Mako Vunipola (Saracens), who moves to the bench and Joe Launchbury (Wasps), who was deemed unfit to play on Wednesday, in two changes to the 15 that started in the 9-40 victory over Italy in Rome.
Elsewhere Wasps centre Elliot Daly is included as a replacement for the first time. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) also makes the bench having been recalled to the squad.
England head coach Eddie Jones said: "I have been pleased with the attitude the squad have shown during a comprehensive two weeks of training. Everyone is pushing hard to be in contention so there were some tight calls on selection.
"Joe Marler made a big impact off the bench in Rome and will start at loose-head with Mako Vunipola finishing the game. Joe Launchbury is unlucky to miss out through injury; Maro Itoje is selected as a result and we're pleased for him. "Elliot Daly has worked hard this week and is now ready for a place in the 23. He can provide cover in several positions in the back line. "Playing our first game at Twickenham after two away fixtures will be huge for us. We're determined to put in a strong performance against a clever Irish side who are the benchmark of European rugby."
England match-day 23 to face Ireland
15. Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 45 caps) 14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 17 caps) 13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 18 caps) 12. Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 37 caps) 11. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps) 10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 19 caps) 9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 54 caps) 1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 39 caps) 2. Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 68 caps) 3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 58 caps) 4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 1 cap) 5. George Kruis (Saracens, 12 caps) 6. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 45 caps) 7. James Haskell (Wasps, 64 caps) 8. Billy Vunipola (vice captain, Saracens, 23 caps)
16. Jamie George (Saracens, 5 caps) 17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 29 caps) 18. Paul Hill (Northampton Saints, 1 cap) 19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 44 caps) 20. Jack Clifford (Harlequins, 2 caps) 21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 55 caps) 22. Elliot Daly (Wasps, uncapped) 23. Alex Goode (Saracens, 20 caps)
Haskell’s Valentine message to Sergio Parisse
St Valentine’s Day is upon us and while most choose to spend it with loved ones, the rugby fans amongst us will be concentrating on one thing and one thing only tomorrow.
England travel to Rome to take on Italy in the Six Nations, looking to keep their Championship and Grand Slam hopes alive. The Italians will be a tricky proposition, after narrowly losing out to France last week.
Rome is certainly a romantic city and James Haskell is getting in the mood, sending former Stade Francais teammate Sergio Parisse this message.
Don’t ask, just watch.
This is hilarious in fairness to Haskell, but one must wonder what the Italy captain makes of it all.
It’s time to roll out a cliché, and say that the Azzurri will have a picture of Haskell nailed to the wall of the dressing room tomorrow afternoon.
Haskell’s first tackle on Parisse is sure to be an interesting one…