Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Eddie Jones right to keep England stars on their toes, says Haskell

Eddie Jones made a "common-sense statement" by warning England's Grand Slam winners not to expect to tour Australia this summer, according to James Haskell.

England head coach Jones has already revealed he believes a nucleus of his Grand Slam-winning side has struggled to reproduce that form since returning to their clubs.

Flanker Haskell hopes none of Wasps' England contingent fall into that category, but admitted Jones had taken a shrewd move by keeping all his Test hopefuls on their toes.

Wasps will take on Saracens in Reading in Saturday's Champions Cup semi-final, with Haskell insisting there is precious little time to sweat over the summer when trying to shut down the likes of Billy Vunipola at the weekend.

"I think it was a common-sense statement from Eddie, it's something from a coach striving to get the best out of his players," said Haskell of Jones' comments.

"It is definitely difficult to have an emotional high of a Six Nations and come back and consistently perform. And you're only as good as your last game.

"I said it myself as the name was being engraved on the Six Nations trophy, you can be written off straight away.

"It's the same for every player, so I think Eddie's just making sure no one's under any illusions that you have to be at your best, have to look to play your best.

"He's not spoken to the squad about that, he just understands that in the club environment you have to be the best you possibly can be, you have to keep playing and keep improving."

When England's three-Test tour to Australia does come around in June, Haskell has accepted Jones' side must raise their level markedly to compete with 2015's beaten World Cup finalists.

"It's important to understand that while we're making progress, yes the Six Nations was good, but were we good enough to compete with southern hemisphere sides? Arguably not at times," said Haskell.

"Do we want to keep improving? Yes.

"Did Eddie make it clear the entire time the work would not stop, was not finished, we'd only just started and that things were going to get harder and tougher? Then yeah.

"If some players needed that rev-up that was good, but I think it was pretty obvious.

"I thought that in camp. Every time we played a game I was expecting and looking over my shoulder, and I think any good player does that - no one takes it for granted.

"If anyone ever asks me what I'm doing at the end of the season I tell them I'm worrying about this weekend.

"Because that's the way.

"I've got no plans, I haven't booked any tickets to Australia, I've got to keep fighting my way into this side.

"Thomas Young has been outstanding for us, George Smith's obviously the legend that he is and Nathan Hughes and Sam Jones, all the boys that are chomping at my heels. So it's about making sure that I perform."


From Belfast Telegraph