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James Haskell: Decision to stay with Wasps a no-brainer

Published 04/01/2016

James Haskell has agreed a new contract with Wasps
James Haskell has agreed a new contract with Wasps

James Haskell insists signing a new contract at Wasps was a formality due to his determination to continue playing for England.

Haskell has extended his second spell at the club knowing that leaving the Aviva Premiership would exclude him from international selection because of the Rugby Football Union's overseas player rule.

The versatile back row spent three years playing in France, Japan and New Zealand and while the lure of broadening his horizons once more was strong, it was the Ricoh Arena that offered the best stage on which to realise his ambitions.

"The prospect of playing for England is why I work as hard as I do," Haskell told Press Association Sport.

"I had a look at what else was out there. Super Rugby attracted me because I had such a good time in New Zealand. I really enjoyed my time abroad, but ultimately the decision was a no-brainer.

"It was important that I stayed in the Premiership to continue my quest to play for England again and Wasps are the only Premiership club I've wanted to play for.

"Pulling on that white shirt is why I get up every day and I feel I still have more to give at that level.

"My focus is always performing well for Wasps, but if Wasps go well you put yourself in the shop window for England.

"I always wanted to stay at Wasps and Wasps wanted me to stay. It wasn't that difficult."

Since his professional debut in 2002, Haskell has made 160 appearances for Wasps over two spells totalling 10 years and was part of the squad that won four Premiership titles and two Heineken Cup crowns.

The 30-year-old has amassed 62 caps and played at two World Cups, but spent 15 months in international exile that ended when he was selected for the 2014 tour to New Zealand.

He has been an ever-present in England's squad since and expects his playing career to continue until 2020.

"Playing for another five years is realistic. I enjoy changing my game, improving and looking for ways to reinvent myself. I think I've done that this season to a degree," he said.

"The desire and motivation to keep playing is there, but I won't hang around, though, if I've fallen down the pecking order or told that I'm not wanted.

"I'll know when it's time to call it a day. I play rugby to win things, to be the best player and be in the mix. I don't love the game enough to be second fiddle and plodding along."

Wasps director or rugby Dai Young believes Haskell's international future could extend until Japan 2019.

"James is hungry to continue playing for England and I think he's a genuine option to go right through to the next World Cup," Young said.

"He's a larger-than-life character but also a true professional in his approach to the game and is always one of the last to leave training after doing extras.

"That drive to keep on improving is the reason he has produced some of his best rugby of his career over the past couple of seasons."

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