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Double aim for Wasps' James Haskell

James Haskell is playing with the twin aim of winning a new Wasps contract and catching the eye of England head coach Eddie Jones.

Haskell's contract expires at the end of the season and he is keen to extend his second spell at a club that is threatening to return to the top tier of European rugby following emphatic victories over heavyweights Leinster and Toulon.

The move to the Ricoh Arena has enabled Wasps to flex their financial muscles and they have been linked with high-profile moves for Leigh Halfpenny and Manu Tuilagi in recent weeks.

Haskell, who is expected to return from a shoulder injury for Sunday's European showdown with Bath, is eager to perform knowing that Jones is busy watching every English player in preparation for naming his first squad in January.

"Winning silverware is my drive. There's a new England coach, I'm playing for a contract at Wasps and I want to lead from the front - there are three reasons for me to perform," Haskell said.

"I'd love to stay at Wasps, it would be amazing. It's a fantastic club and we're doing well. It's down to them. People are in dialogue and we'll have to see how that works out.

"I adore being leader here. There are always places to go and I enjoyed my time playing in the Super 15, but I'm very happy at Wasps.

"I'm in the form in my life, I'm eager to get better and I want to continue. I've just turned 30, have looked after myself well and touch wood have been injury-free. I want to win things and hopefully that will be at Wasps."

Haskell welcomes the big names being linked with Wasps and refuses to fear for his own position at the club.

Australia's veteran openside George Smith arrived at the Ricoh Arena during the summer and Haskell uses another outstanding Wallaby back row in David Pocock to illustrate his outlook on competition.

"My contract is up, so maybe they will want to replace me with Pocock, you never know. Everyone, from what I read, is after David Pocock," Haskell said.

"You have to give your heart and soul to the club but remember that if there's someone better and they get him, they will do that.

"I don't worry about it. When George Smith signed I thought it was unbelievable - how can I learn from this guy?

"If they signed David Pocock it would be great to work with him and see what he does. If you want to be best, you have to put yourself in difficult situations."

Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster in the wake of England's disastrous World Cup and over the weekend attended matches at Harlequins and Newcastle as the task of assessing his playing options began in earnest.

The Aviva Premiership has enjoyed a strong start the Champions Cup and Haskell insists Jones will inherit a strong national team.

"Eddie would have known that English rugby's in a good place. Due to one bad World Cup, it doesn't mean England doesn't have a lot of talent," Haskell said.

"That's the one thing that's been a bit disappointing - everyone's lost their head and gone mad about stuff.

"Actually we've got a very good group of payers and we were so close to getting it right. The health of English rugby is in a very good place."


From Belfast Telegraph