James Haskell describes it as the ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ and he is determined to do whatever it takes to make it to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The 32-year-old forward, who is back involved with England having been banned for their opening two NatWest 6 Nations fixtures, will leave Wasps at the end of the season and admits his next club move will be crucial to keeping his world cup dream alive.
Pivotal to that will be staying in the Aviva Premiership, but he also has to force himself back into an England backrow that continues to strengthen.
“I missed the autumn fixtures, and when I returned I realised the standard had changed, what was good enough before is not good enough now,” admitted Haskell.
“Sam Underhill was outstanding against Argentina in the autumn and at the weekend there was his try-saving tackle but all the backrow boys have been great. There are backrow forwards emerging from everywhere but you’ve just got to do what you do.”
'A dream come true'
Haskell has spent the past few weeks with England in the Mitsubishi Motors performance centre at Pennyhill Park “improving” and “learning” also describing Friday’s open training session at Twickenham Stadium as the “most physically demanding” he has done.
Under the watchful eye of head coach Eddie Jones, who Haskell jokes has always got his “P45 ready”, he is desperate to play at a final Rugby World Cup and end his international career on a high.
“I’ve made peace with the fact it’s going to end at some point but I feel I’ve still got a lot more to give,” he said.
“The ideal scenario is you do what a Richie McCaw or a Dan Carter did and win a world cup and finish on your own terms, but how many players get to do that? Very few. It will end, will it end as I want it to? Maybe not, we’ll see.”
And Haskell says he is desperate to stay in the Premiership to keep his England dream alive and is keen to find a club for next season sooner rather than later.
“I’m fully aware if you go outside of the Premiership then it’s game over,” he said.
“My priority is to go to the 2019 World Cup under Eddie Jones, that would be a dream come true.
“It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and I have to put myself in the best possible position to do it.”