England tour of South Africa
Haskell determined to fit in with England
May 13, 2012
James Haskell is set for a return to England colours during next month's tour of South Africa © Getty Images
James Haskell is relishing being the 'new boy' in the England squad and has vowed to do all he can to make sure he fits in with the Stuart Lancaster regime.
Haskell returned to the England ranks this week for the first time since last year's Rugby World Cup when he was named in Lancaster's 42-man squad for next month's tour of South Africa. The back-row did not feature during this year's Six Nations as he continued a rugby odyssey that has included spells in Japan and currently New Zealand and having seen his World Cup contribution over-shadowed by a reprimand for making inappropriate comments to a female hotel worker, he has more than one point to prove.
"It's always an amazing honour to be asked to join the England squad, especially when the quality of competition is so high," he wrote in his blog for MSN.com. "Guys like Chris Robshaw and Ben Morgan to name a few have set new back-row benchmarks in that white shirt.
"The squad is in a great place and, under Stuart Lancaster and Graham Rowntree, it has returned to a level where players are desperate to be involved and fans are proud to shout support. I want to fit into that environment, essentially as a 'new boy', and earn the right to play a part."
Haskell is also convinced his decision to turn his back on England and extend his rugby education with the Ricoh Black Rams and the Highlanders will also pay off in the long run. " Taking the risk of ruling yourself out of contention for England is always a difficult pill to swallow, but my experiences in the last year, in Japan and now in New Zealand have been second to none. I have developed as a player, both on and off the field.
"This said, however excited I was about England's performances in the Six Nations from a fan's point of view, it didn't make up for that little bit fear that I may never put that white shirt on again and represent my country. For all that my critics say, the reason I play rugby is to play for my country."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry