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English Rugby
Haskell rocked by Dublin defeat
ESPNscrum Staff
March 19, 2011

James Haskell admitted the "bitter memory" of England's Grand Slam dreams being wrecked by a rampant Ireland team could be his last in the Six Nations championship.

The Stade Francais flanker is currently in discussions about activating the option of an extra year in Paris while he has also been linked with a summer move to Clermont Auvergne. Haskell knows he would be risking his international future by remaining in France because England will not select players based abroad from the start of next year.

The Rugby Football Union have said that policy would only be broken in "exceptional circumstances". Jonny Wilkinson has already indicated an intention to retire from Test rugby after the World Cup by signing a new deal with Toulon. But if Haskell's last Six Nations experience - at least for the time being - was England being crushed 24-8 in Dublin, he would find it a hard one to stomach.

"I left nothing out on that field. I come away pleased with that but frustrated I have lost to Ireland again and we have lost a Grand Slam," Haskell said. "Whatever happens with the World Cup or where I sign as a club - whether I stay in France or come back to England - this could be my last Six Nations.

"You have to play as if it's your last game and I tried to do that. We will wait and see. People in higher positions will make decisions (about the future). This will be a bitter memory for a long while. You are only as good as your last game and this wasn't great."

England were still crowned Six Nations champions for the first time since 2003 but the medal was of minor consolation to a young squad with grand ambitions.

"I am bitterly disappointed," said Haskell. "I have never been in a position to win the Grand Slam. To lose the way we did was very difficult. It is disappointing and takes the edge off eight weeks of hard work.

"We were our own worst enemies. It was a physical game but if you shoot yourself in the foot every play it makes it 10 times worse."

The Grand Slam-winning team of 2003, captained by Martin Johnson, had blown the opportunity on four previous occasions before finally landing the top prize. Haskell believes that when the pain of yesterday's defeat finally subsides England will be able to use the experience to their benefit.

The next time England play a Test match in anger will be against Argentina in the opening game of the World Cup on September 10.

"Momentum was with us, the country was behind us, the fans were behind us and it was the start of something very special - that has taken a knock back but it is not the end of the world," Haskell said. "It will do my head in for however long but this team will be richer for it. We have a special group of players with a great group of management.

"You get tournament teams and finals teams. When I was at Wasps we did very well in turning up and winning those finals. This is one of those learning curves. No major changes are needed. We were our own worst enemies. If we can correct that we can carry on this momentum. "I don't think there is any need to panic. It is just very upsetting we have blown a Grand Slam."

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