England tour of South Africa
Haskell: England need to stop being robotic
June 13, 2012
James Haskell is back in the England reckoning after spells in Japan and New Zealand © Getty Images
England back-row James Haskell has called on the side to concentrate on their own game and stop being "so robotic".
Haskell is starting for England on Wednesday against the SA (South) Barbarians after last pulling on the jersey at the end of the World Cup. Since then he has enjoyed a spell in Japan and is currently turning out for the Highlanders in Super Rugby prior to moving back to England and re-signing for Wasps. Tom Johnson got the not at blindside in the first Test against South Africa at the weekend and Haskell will hope to break into the first choice XV prior to the end of the tour.
The last time Haskell played for England was under Martin Johnson and Haskell believes that Stuart Lancaster has brought an All Blacks mentality to the party but has also called on the side to back themselves rather than worrying about the threats of the opposition.
"We have the talent and passion, but it's those little nuances and mental stuff that we need. Like learning from other countries what they do well and speaking to other coaches," Haskell told Supersport. "We can maybe not be so robotic. I've learned from Adam Thomson and Andrew Hore at the Highlanders that, bar knowing what foot they kick off and their basic pattern, they don't know anything about the opposition. They just worry about their game plan. You can become caught up in talking about your opposition too much.
"I've always said that my reason for playing rugby is to play for my country and this is a very exciting new setup. I was told Stuart wanted to rebuild the passion and mentality of the team, and I want to be a part of that, it's very exciting.
"Stuart has made it like the All Blacks - the shirt is not yours, you have to fight for it and I'm happy to fit in with that. I may have 42 caps, but I'm back right at the bottom of the ladder and in this team, experience doesn't count for much."
Haskell will now aim to prove to Lancaster that he is worthy of his spot in the squad despite the lack of domestic rugby in England but he will not change his natural game if that is required.
"Once you reach a certain age as a player and have been around for a while the differences are only in small percentages," Haskell said. "I am not going to suddenly able to start doing things I couldn't before.
"You either have an ability you work up to or you can't. What I think my little differences are are in consistency, game understanding, decision-making - some of the stuff that is not so tangible to put your finger on.
"I am not going to become a playmaker, that is not my thing but those little abilities, knowing when to pass, seeing those guys on you - that kind of stuff - I feel has improved."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
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