Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Haskell Gains from His Pain; Rejection Spurred on Wasps Star to Win Back Spot

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Haskell Gains from His Pain; Rejection Spurred on Wasps Star to Win Back Spot

Article excerpt

Byline: FRANK MALLEY

JAMES Haskell could have been forgiven for feeling hard done by when he missed out on the rugby World Cup by the narrowest of margins, writes FRANK MALLEY.

Instead, the Wasps flanker (pictured right) used the pain of rejection after being culled from Brian Ashton's final squad to ensure he came back a better player.

The reward is a home debut at Twickenham against Wales in the RBS 6 Nations on Saturday and the chance to cement a permanent position in an England back row in the midst of change.

Haskell said: "I was frustrated when I was left out. I dwelled on it for two or three days but I didn't break down because my rise to the England team was very quick. It wasn't as if I had been overlooked for years. Everything until then had been a bonus.

"I was obviously disappointed, but back at Wasps with players away at the World Cup I was able to play six, seven and eight. I told myself I never wanted to be left out again and if that's the case, brilliant, but I know I have a lot of work to do.

"I don't sit around dwelling on things.

You can't do that because while you're worrying about missing out, guys who weren't even mentioned are coming up behind you.

"I realised I had to work harder. There were questions and I had to answer them."

He did so with a string of impressive performances for his club and his England return was inevitable even without the retirements of Martin Corry and his Wasps team-mate Lawrence Dallaglio.

Dallaglio sent Haskell a text on hearing he had been picked, the legendary number eight reminding that he scored a try the last time he played against Wales.

"That's a challenge thrown down already," Haskell said. "I will try to lead by example. I just need to play hard against a very good Wales side."

At 22, it is Haskell's third cap, having made his debut in the 27-18 defeat by Wales last season, and he lines up alongside Gloucester No 8 and new boy Luke Narraway and fellow flanker Lewis Moody in a back row in the midst of change.

Intriguingly, he also comes up against his former Wasps boss Warren Gatland, now head coach of Wales and Shaun Edwards, still coaching at Wasps but assisting Gatland on international duty. …

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