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.”
The England and London Wasps Rugby Player James Haskell has designed a charity Christmas e-card for Movember
So please support this very worthwhile charity by ordering your christmas e-cards through BT MyDonate.
James Haskell is an English rugby union player who currently plays for and co-captains London Wasps in the Aviva Premiership and internationally for England. James has supported Movember for a number of years and his team the Wasps have raised over £1,000 growing their mos.
The Movember Foundation is a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising £402 million and funding over 1,000 programmes focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity. We seek to make a global contribution to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. This ambition underpins everything we do. It is the driving force behind our campaigns, funding strategy, and vision for the future.
James said: 'My BT MyDonate Christmas card brings the traditional snowman into the 21st century with his very own mo. In the creation of my piece, I relied heavily on a complex mix between the schools of Post Impressionism, Naive and Fauvism. Please choose my card this Christmas to impress your friends who know a thing or two about art, as well as help men live happier, healthier and longer lives. MyDonate doesn’t take any commission from your donation, it’s a simple decision.'
Get James's e-card for Movember by clicking on the button below and donating:
Click here to read more about Movember, as well to view all the different schools of art to see if what James said was true. [Doubt it!]
Find out which other celebrities are involved in the Christmas Card Campaign here.
Why Movember is so important to Wasps
Like most things in life, experience is a very personal thing.
The majority of us can pay homage and relate to a worthwhile cause but it never truly resonates until the issue touches you personally. Then the reality and truth really kick- in.
The men’s prostate cancer initiative, Movember, has been happening every November since 2003 but as Ashley Johnson, Wasps very popular former back-row player, now born again hooker explains, it wasn’t until one of Wasps own, got prostate cancer that the truth and reality began to dawn.
Read his account here.
You can donate to the Wasps Movember campaign by visiting here.
“What's up Hask, just watched you and Wasps destroy Toulon. Great performance. I play in the back row for a Hampshire club in the south and one thing I struggle with is match day prep. I normally feel worn out 15 minutes in. I train Monday through to Thursday rest Friday play Saturday. Any tips?“
- Reece Cooper
Very interesting and relevant question sent in to ASK HASK. Thanks Reece!
Please click here to read James answer which he has written in the form of an informative blog
To view more #ASKHASK questions and answer visit our Q&A page here.
If anyone wants to Ask Hask anything about fitness, training, nutrition or indeed rugby. Please either send in your questions via social media or email us directly at AskHask@jhhf.co.uk
The Mental Side of Sport
In our rugby show this morning we are looking again at the much undervalued area of mental preparation within sport, covered by the general terms - sport psychology, focus, mindset,attitude - call it what you will.
It’s that extra half inch all top coaches across all sports, talk about. The ability to manage and cope with intense pressure to remain absolutely focussed. The ability to cut out all external noise in order to harness and focus all one’s energy into achieving the desired goal.
There are many famous examples of this in sport but perhaps when it comes to rugby, no more famous a moment than the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final and that famous last minute Wilkinson drop goal.
The ability of a team, with some ninety odd seconds left on the clock, in what undoubtedly was the most important game of their lives, to block everything else out. All emotions, all time pressures; to simply focus on the task of methodically working the ball back up the field into a position to enable Wilkinson to apply the final denouement.
No panic, no wrong moves, all fifteen; although history shows only thirteen of the fifteen actually touched the ball in that final flourish, calmly working towards a common purpose.
In this video James talks about how important the mental aspect of the game is to him and how since he started playing professional rugby at the age of eighteen, he has worked with leading Sports Psychologist Dr Jill Owen to help shape his mental approach to the game.
Watch and Understand the Rugby Champions Cup with JHTV
It’s that great time of year again – The European Rugby Champions Cup kicks off this weekend.
Who will topple three times successive champions Toulon?
Rugby they say, as a result of the success of the Rugby World Cup in England, is now the World’s fastest growing sport.
Even if this is only half true, there will be lots of people new to the game watching the drama unfold this weekend.
So if you are a newcomer to the sport and want to develop a quick understanding about the game then you are in the right place.
Click HERE to view James Haskell’s free Beginners Guide to Rugby video series.