Outstanding performances for England U21 foreshadowed James Haskell’s route into the England Elite Squad and the 70 senior caps he has won so far include 23 consecutively before he was an unused bench replacement against Australia at Sydney in June 2010. He completed a half century of Test appearances in the final game of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship against Wales in Cardiff, but missed the subsequent tour of South America because of tendinitis.
He had been man of the match when England beat Scotland 22-16 at Twickenham in March 2011, was his country’s top tackler with 57 in that Championship and scored his fourth Test try against Wales at Twickenham the following August. His latest achievements include being man of the match in England’s historic 39-28 victory over Australia in Brisbane last June. He made 18 tackles – twice as many as any other player in the game – and his work rate, energy and inspirational play all contributed to one of his finest displays in the red rose shirt. The following week, he again topped the tackle chart with 23 of England’s 213 and became man of the series in what became a 3-0 clean sweep. He missed the final Test in Sydney and underwent reconstructive surgery on his big toe last July that ruled him out of the Old Mutual Wealth autumn internationals.
Windsor-born James, originally a Wasps player, spent two seasons with Stade Français before being released by the French Top 14 club in June 2011. He played for Ricoh Black Rams in Japan after the 2011 Rugby World Cup and then secured a Super Rugby contract with Otago Highlanders. An appearance in the third Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in June 2012 foreshadowed his return to Wasps on a three-year contract starting in 2012-13. He was appointed as captain for the 2014/15 campaign, joint captain with Matt Mullan for last season and started all five matches in England’s Grand Slam winning campaign.
James was educated at Wellington College and had excelled during England’s 2008 summer tour of New Zealand, having made his debut in the 27-18 defeat by Wales the previous year, and was in the Saxons team that subsequently beat New Zealand Maori in the Churchill Cup final at Twickenham.
He made ten appearances for England U21 in 2005, including five in the World Rugby World Championship in Mendoza and became the first player to appear in every match for that age group team in two successive years.
James was a try-scorer when the side completed the 2006 Grand Slam with a 40-5 win over Ireland, having previously represented England U18, U19 and England Sevens. He first figured for Wasps at the age of 18 when he singled out Lawrence Dallaglio as his sporting hero for his inspiring leadership qualities.
His swift development included being runner-up to fellow Wasps back row Tom Rees in the Premiership Young Player of the Season awards in 2006-07.
That accolade came at the close of a campaign during which James gained a Heineken Cup winners’ medal in only his second professional season. He had played as a 50th-minute replacement for Dallaglio in the 25-9 Twickenham triumph over Leicester Tigers.
Other distinctions that season included appearances for England Sevens in Dubai and George and his England Saxons debut in the 34-5 win over Italy A at Exeter in 2007.
The following week, he scored a try in the 30-5 victory over Ireland A at Ravenhill and his route was signposted to full honours and to his two tries against Wales at Twickenham in February 2010. He had made 109 Premiership appearances and scored 11 tries by mid-January this year.
20 points - 4T
2007 W, F 2008 W, It, F, I(R), NZ(1,2), PI(R), A(R), SA, NZ 2009 It, W, I, F(R), S(R), Arg(1,2R), A(R), Arg, NZ 2010 W, It, I, S, F(R), A(1R), Sam 2011 W, It, F, S, I, W. W(R), I World Cup - Arg, G, R, S, F(R) 2012 SA (3), SA(R), NZ(R) 2013 S(R), I, F(R), It, W(R) 2014 NZ (1), Sam, A(R) 2015 W, It, I, S, F, F(R), F, W(R), U 2016 S, It, I, W, F, W, A(1,2)
Last updated: 16 January 2017