Former Wasp James Haskell may have worn the Northampton Saints shirt in preseason but he is waiting to don it for a Premiership match before he feels truly bonded. Speaking to RugbyPass about his new club, the gregarious flanker was in typically self deprecating mood.
Haskell said, “I think I’m fitting in well, whether anyone else thinks I’m fitting in well is down to matter of opinion. I had probably a day of a bit of sketchiness as to whether I was going to fit in, what it was going to be like – new boy at school. And I turned up and within thirty seconds I was very glad to be here and I’ve laughed every day since. We’ve worked hard and I’ve made a lot of new friends. I’ve absolutely loved it here. I didn’t realise how much of a rich history Saints had and how long it had been around. It’s just great to be part of it.”
Haskell made no secret of his desire to play in the Premiership once Wasps had made it clear that he was surplus to requirements. His relationship with Eddie Jones is such that if he can perform well in England at club level, the call-ups to international level may keep on coming, having recently been involved in England’s preseason camp.
Haskell commented, “I want to be involved, my whole reason for staying in the Premiership is to get in that World Cup squad and to play well here. These [England] camps are great, there were fifteen boys who were missing that could potentially be picked. You don’t want to read too much into it. All that matters is when the Premiership starts and how you perform.”
“When you’re heading towards the twilight of your career, you never take for granted any opportunity to put on your England kit and run out there and get some high level coaching and work with the likes of Eddie (Jones) and Steve (Borthwick) because it’s a privilege.”
Steve Borthwick commented after the last camp that Haskell had been doing some extra training alongside the younger players such as Sam Underhill and Tom Curry. While the new Saints man jokes about not wanting to share too much with his protégés, he said, “Those guys are great, I’m learning off them, they’re learning off me. They’re fantastic players. They bring certain different skillsets that are great to work with. They’re very eager and for me – you’ve got to be self-disciplined to have a successful career and you have to keep having that hunger to work. Hopefully I’ll give them some competition as they will to me. I’m not quite ready to hand over the mantle yet.”
At 33, the 77-capped flanker will be hoping to impress Saints’ new Director of Rugby Chris Boyd but admits it might take some of the older fans a little longer. Haskell said, “I’ve got no complaints, no surprises, no trepidation. Whether the fans like me or some of the old stalwarts who probably raised a few eyebrows when I was initially signed, I’ll have to see if I can win them over.”
Haskell on Cipriani
Haskell also weighed in on the debate over Danny Cipriani, with his former Wasps teammate due to face an RFU Independent Disciplinary Panel on Wednesday, despite protests from the Rugby Players’ Association and Gloucester Rugby.
Video: Haskell hits out at Cipriani critics
“I think to be honest with you, it’s been mulled over and over-analysed and as always, pundits with too much time on their hands or paid for their opinions have either split opinion by being quite vehement or understanding. Life throws all sorts of different things in the mix. You have to understand and wait for the facts.
“If we’ve learned anything from what happened with Stokes (Ben Stokes, England cricketer), the world lives now by trial by social media, everyone has an opinion. Mrs Miggins at number 35 is suddenly an expert, people who know nothing about anything are experts.
“I had to reply to one bloke who was telling me exactly why Danny had left Wasps. It was like me watching Oasis play through a shop window and then telling everyone how to play the guitar and how to sing which I know nothing about. Just because you think you know, doesn’t mean you know.
“I think it’s done, it’s done and dusted in my mind. He sent an apology, I think it was very well worded. I think I know him pretty well as a friend and an invididual. I think it’s time to move on. There’s plenty more to life than Cips and stuff that happened in Jersey. Everyone needs to calm down and get on with it. What’s done is done. In a court of law it was all addressed so we’re just conjecture and trying to steal headlines and put our two penny-worth in when nobody really cares.”
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