Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Haskell has plans for Parisse

James Haskell, pictured, is ready to do battle with Italy captain Sergio Parisse
James Haskell, pictured, is ready to do battle with Italy captain Sergio Parisse

James Haskell is ready to give his old friend Sergio Parisse a ferocious Twickenham welcome on Sunday - after the Italian captain blanked his invitation for a coffee.

Haskell holds Parisse in the highest regard, having played alongside him for Stade Francais and seen first hand just why he is considered one of the great players of the modern era. But their friendship is on hold until the final whistle, by which time England will hope to have tightened their grip on the RBS 6 Nations title and set up a shot at the Grand Slam.

Haskell has his own point to prove against Parisse and the Azzurri. The return of his perennial rival Tom Croft to the England squad has heightened competition for the blindside flanker role. "I have always been in competition with Crofty and there is also Billy Vunipola, who will have a big future for England, and Matt Kvesic," Haskell said.

"There are guys coming out from all over. If you get that opportunity to start that's the greatest honour and everyone is looking to do that.

"There is no-one sitting in the armchair thinking 'I am comfortable here'.

"I picked up a lot from Sergio - confidence with the ball in hand, looking to attack opposition players and taking people on, developing your skill range to do different things, different passes.

"He is a world-class player that most people would want in their team. He is very consistent and leads by example, with that Italian fire and passion he has.

"You want that. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I've tried to ask him for a coffee but he hasn't replied to my text messages.

"So I at least want to see him in the game and say 'hello' because I haven't seen him for a long time."

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