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…
England makes 3 changes for Italy in 6 Nations
England recalled scrumhalf Ben Youngs, lock Courtney Lawes, and prop Mako Vunipola for the Six Nations match away to Italy on Sunday, as coach Eddie Jones looks for a second straight win to begin his tenure.
Danny Care, Joe Launchbury, and Joe Marler made way in the three changes to the team that started the hard-fought 15-9 win in Scotland on Saturday.
Highly rated, uncapped lock Maro Itoje was brought onto the bench, which has a 6-2 split in favour of the forwards, suggesting Jones expects a tough battle up front in Rome.
Italy lost 23-21 to France in their first match after conceding a late penalty that was converted from long range.
England has won all of its 21 games against the Azzurri.
"This is the strongest 23 to go to Rome and get the performance and result we want," said Jones, who was hired in November after England failed to get out of its pool in the Rugby World Cup. "Mako, Ben, and Courtney have been pushing hard for selection during training, but they also fit the game plan we want to implement against Italy.
"Italy took France very close last weekend in Paris so they'll be fired up."
England: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (captain), Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Billy Vunipola.
Reserves: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Paul Hill, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Alex Goode.
James Haskell calls for calm ahead of England's Six Nations opener
England flanker James Haskell has called for calm ahead of the opening match of the Six Nations against Scotland on Saturday.
New coach Eddie Jones' arrival has sparked excitement throughout English rugby and the squad will attempt to match the high expectations at Murrayfield as they bid to put their World Cup failings behind them.
"It's all been very positive so far, but it's only been two weeks and we haven't played a game so let's not get too excited," said Wasps captain Haskell.
"You can prepare and focus however you want, but you don't know what course the game will take. We're playing a very good Scotland side in a hostile environment and no doubt there will be bad weather and a difficult pitch.
"But we're prepared for that kind of battle and the most important thing is that we get the win to get the ball rolling.
"The World Cup is done and dusted, we've got nothing to lose and we want to make sure we give a good account of ourselves."
And Haskell stresses the new regime should not mean a complete change of style and tactics for England, insisting winning matches is the ultimate goal.
"A lot of people want the new broom to sweep clean, but a lot of those people have no concept of what international rugby is actually like," he added.
"I've never been part of an England team that hasn't wanted to play an expansive or entertaining game. You're limited by factors such as the opposition, weather, the field, the mood in the camp.
"We're trying to play a brand of rugby that we can be proud of and that will get us the win. But ultimately all I care about is winning."
James Haskell wants to see improvement
James Haskell insists Wasps are determined to emerge from the recent slump that has resulted in their slide down the Aviva Premiership.
Victories over Leinster and Toulon have placed the Coventry-based club at the summit of their pool in Europe, but domestically they have slipped to ninth on the back of three successive defeats.
Adding to their woes are three consecutive losses at the Ricoh Arena ahead of Sunday's visit of Worcester and while Haskell is refusing to panic, the England flanker is demanding an improvement.
"We haven't lost an aura at home, but it's gone from being a fortress to losing a couple of times there. We need to get the show back on the road," the Wasps captain said.
"We've lacked consistency in the Premiership, though at times the games have been pretty close.
"We just haven't closed things out and at times we've been our own worst enemy. Against Sale last weekend we weren't pro-active enough.
"It's disappointing, but the good thing is that we're not even halfway through the season and there's a lot of rugby to be played. We will adjust and get better.
"We have good players but we know that at the moment we're playing like a ninth-place team and we have to improve.
"Worcester will see what's happened to us over the last couple of week and will want to bring intensity to the Ricoh."
Calling all would-be Wasps Match-Day Mascots
Land Rover are currently searching for young rugby players to become official mascots for Wasps’ home matches at the Ricoh Arena this season.
To support RWC 2015 Land Rover recently launched their ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign, a programme of events and activities which aims to champion grassroots rugby.
What better way to do this than by recruiting a group of young players from the Coventry and Warwickshire area to represent their club as official match day mascots for Wasps?
To be in with a chance of winning a Wasps’ mascot place, club coaches are being asked to nominate one player from their club (aged between 7 and 14 years old) who truly represents ‘We Deal In Real’ and embodies the spirit of rugby through their determination, strength of character and resilience.
Then describe in 200 words or less how the youngster you’ve chosen demonstrates “We Deal In Real” and upload an image that illustrates why the player should be selected for the role.
Entries are open until the 30th January and the lucky winners will be announced at the start of February.
The players chosen will have a truly memorable match day experience at the Ricoh Arena, where they’ll not only have the privilege of leading the team out, but will also receive match day tickets for themselves, two guests and 20 members of their club, so they can share the experience with their coach and team mates.
Winners will also receive an official Land Rover mascot kit, a behind the scenes tour of the Ricoh Arena, the chance to meet Wasps’ players and for their rugby club to be profiled in the Wasps match day programme.
Wasps’ captain James Haskell commented: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for youngsters to be at the very heart of professional rugby and share a special moment with the Wasps team. It’s always a great honour to walk out onto the pitch representing your rugby club, so it will be a fantastic experience for the mascots selected and for the Wasps players”.
All entries will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges, including a member of the Wasps Community team and former Wasps’ captain, Chris Bell. If you are a club coach and would like to submit an entry please complete the fields below before the 30th January.
JAMES HASKELL SIGNS NEW CONTRACT TO STAY AT WASPS
James Haskell says he turned down offers to play in France before signing a new Wasps contract because he wanted to keep his England dream alive.
The 30-year-old flanker is determined to win a place in Eddie Jones’s first England squad next week and believes he made the right choice to stay at the club he supported as a teenager. Haskell, who has won 62 caps, is no stranger to playing abroad, having turned out for Stade Francais and then experiencing rugby in Japan and New Zealand before returning to Wasps.
The Wasps captain said: “I had a couple of options in France and I also really enjoyed playing Super 15 with the Highlanders but that would also mean playing in Japan because of the difference in the seasons. “While there were conversations about playing in France, I always wanted to stay at Wasps because I want to play for England. I believe I am playing some of the best rugby of my career. “I know the rules [players based outside of England cannot be selected for the national team] and while you could chase money elsewhere, I am very comfortable at the club.“
There is a Lions tour to New Zealand next year and I would donate a kidney to be involved but getting into the England squad is my priority.”