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A rested James Haskell says he refuses to worry about England’s ever-growing options at back row and instead opts to concentrate on his individual game.
The 33-year-old, who recently moved from Wasps to Northampton Saints, wasn’t involved in England’s summer series loss to South Africa two months ago, but remains optimistic and realistic when it comes to his international ambitions.
“It is very naïve to think there is an end to competition,” he said.
“I worry about myself - you have to respect people but I think you have to be in competition with yourself every day.
"‘Am I doing everything I can to be the best rugby player I can?’ That’s all you can do.
“With any kind of international set up you’re never sure if you’re in or out; it’s all down to how you play, how you perform, staying fit and delivering what you are supposed to.”
Patience of a Saint
Haskell was one of seven flanker options named in head coach Eddie Jones’ 44-man training squad that convened at the Lensbury in Teddington last weekend.
His 77th international cap came in the Six Nations loss to Ireland in March, and since then he has seen others given a chance on the side of England’s scrum. Undeterred, Haskell remains focused on his job.
“Me sitting at home worrying about Brad Shields or Michael Rhodes or Tom Curry is going to do nothing; I’m sure they’re not worried about me,” he added.
“Eddie has always been clear, you have to perform and you have to do well.”
England's pre-season camp lasted three days, but Haskell’s charisma was well noted by England’s coaching staff, and recognised by forwards coach Steve Borthwick.
“Hask is incredibly well-driven, he’s come back in excellent condition and I’d expect nothing less from him. His experience is great to have around again,” he explained. "He's passionate about playing for England"
“He’s really good with one or two of the younger guys – at the end of training he stayed on to do some extra work with Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.
“One thing I’d say about Hask from knowing him as a 19-year-old, playing against him and then being in the England squad with him later is that he is incredibly competitive and unbelievably resilient.
“He’s very passionate about playing for England, understands the privilege that comes with it and is always determined to make the most of it. He’s a positive, energetic gregarious type of guy and it rubs off on others.”