James Haskell confident of going toe-to-toe with France in England comeback
James Haskell insists he is ready to do himself and England justice as he prepares to make his comeback in the RBS 6 Nations opener against France at Twickenham.
Haskell, 31, has played less than one hour of rugby this year following toe surgery in January, but could be set for a place on England's bench when head coach Eddie Jones names his team to face France on Thursday.
Haskell's inclusion in the squad is something of a gamble given that the toe injury, which gave way during England's second Test in Australia last June, sidelined him for more than six months.
But the defiant Wasps flanker believes he is mentally and physically set to defend England's Six Nations title.
"I'm confident I am fine and so are the coaches here," Haskell said. "If I get the opportunity to take to the field or start the game then I will do my best.
"I have had six months of training, fitness and rehabilitation, and the way we train here is super intense. Yesterday's session was like an 80-minute game.
"I feel pretty prepared to do myself justice and to do the team justice. I would not play if I didn't think I could. I would put my hand up and say that I am just not ready because there are plenty of boys who are chomping at the bit and it is more important to put the team first."
Haskell is rated highly by Jones and was an integral fixture during England's Grand Slam success and subsequent tour of Australia in which they went unbeaten.
But his spell on the sidelines has enabled Northampton's Tom Wood to rise to prominence and Haskell faces a tough test to regain his status as England's number one openside flanker.
"The first time I was left out of the England squad when I went to Japan and I was watching on TV I thought the world was going to end," Haskell, who claims to have written 100,000-word book as well as performing a DJ set for students at Oxford Brookes University during his time out of the game, added.
"With this England squad, we've got so many good back-rows. I think always when you're in this squad you are always clinging on by your fingertips.
"There are probably a few guys that have got a firm foot and handhold but if you're aspiring to have an environment where you are brilliant at the basics, where you're really focused on trying to get results and are desperate to improve - and that's what this place is like - you always feel like you are one step away from being involved. Once you accept that and you don't think 'I should be involved' and let it take care of itself, that's fine.
"It's an addictive thing, you want to keep being involved, but I've got no power to select myself, otherwise I'd always be there, I'd be playing until I was 45."