Haskell facing uphill task for Test return
June 5, 2012
Flanker James Haskell has been playing in Super Rugby for the Highlanders © PA Photos
England coach Stuart Lancaster has warned returning England flanker James Haskell that he faces a tough task to win back his place in the England team.
Haskell has returned to the England camp for the first time since the World Cup. He missed the entire Six Nations as he was playing Super Rugby for the Highlanders after a brief stint in Japan immediately after the World Cup.
England are without the injured flanker Tom Croft and Haskell has already told Lancaster of his determination to help make up for his absence.
"Since the World Cup he has been at different clubs in different environments and, as he said to me, he is very keen to come in and make a good impression and force his way into the Test team. That is his aim," Lancaster said. "He is one of our most experienced players but it is a big step to come into a new team and learn all the new systems and structures. Half of the squad has probably changed since he was last here. He is delighted to be here and very keen to put his front foot forward. He spoke of his experiences playing against the Super 15 sides and I talked him through the journey of the Six Nations, the training camp and where we are as a group."
Haskell flew into the camp after having played 48 minutes for the Highlanders in their loss to the Chiefs on Friday. It means he has yet to be able to play a full role in training as he recovers from his exertions in the match and jet-lag.
"He'll train at best tomorrow afternoon and then we have Wednesday off and we name the squad on Thursday morning," Lancaster said. "He won't have trained more than one session prior to announcing the team, so it does make it hard for the first Test."
Scrumhalf Danny Care is another player back in the squad after missing the Six Nations, in his case for disciplinary reasons. Despite slipping behind Lee Dickson and Ben Youngs for the number 9 shirt, he has been in scintillating form for Harlequins on their way to winning the Aviva Premiership and close to a Test return.
"He has been good," Lancaster said. "He is obviously delighted to be back in and knows he is up against some stiff competition in Ben Youngs and Lee Dickson, who both had significant roles in the Six Nations. He knows he has got to work his way into the team but he has made a great start since he came back."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra