Haskell assesses options
December 4, 2010
Action was largely limited to the training ground for James Haskell this autumn © Getty Images
England and Stade Francais flanker James Haskell has indicated that he is hopeful of staying in France beyond this season despite the possibility of putting his international career in jeopardy.
The RFU is insisting that it will not select foreign-based players for England duty after the 2011 World Cup unless there extraordinary are circumstances. But Haskell, whose contract expires with Stade at the end of the season, insists that he is eager to stay in France if possible and admits he may be forced into a tough decision.
"My contract is up at the end of the season and there is an option with both parties for me to stay another year," he told the Daily Express. "I am enjoying life in Paris. In my ideal world, that is what would happen.
"There are valid arguments on both sides. You can see what it would mean to come back to the Premiership and play week-in, week-out against the guys in competition with me for England.
"If I am out of the next starting line-up with England, that's something to consider, but I'm very comfortable where I am. Michael Cheika is an outstanding coach and I am learning such a lot under his guidance."
"I've been pleased with the way I've been going with Stade Français this season, with some good feedback from Michael Cheika," he said. "I've felt it's some of the best rugby I've played for a long time. When I came into the England camp and wasn't involved, I was a little surprised and disappointed. But the guys picked ahead of me played some outstanding rugby and I have no complaints.
"What I have to do is produce more of those outstanding moments in a game, while still maintaining a high level of consistency. I have to give something to the squad that others don't bring."
Haskell's international career has stuttered since moving to France with a lack of exposure to the English coaching staff and disagreements over his availability. He played a limited role during England's autumn internationals and will be hoping to force his way back into the starting line-up for the Six Nations, especially with rival Tom Croft struggling for fitness.
"You can't produce the results you want without the entire squad backing that up," added Haskell, who will play at openside for Stade in Saturday's Paris derby with Racing Metro. "With rugby so attritional, if you don't have a strong squad you can't hope to achieve anything.
"You could start with a number of combinations in the England back row and they would all do a good job. It's a very high level of competition and we all have to respond to it.
"I've been desperate to go out and play, but England gave one of their best performances in a long time against Australia and Tom's was one of the best I've ever seen him play. So I've been fighting a very uphill battle."
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