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Haskell says ‘exemplary record’ should have been considered before England ban

Wasps flanker will miss England’s first two NatWest 6 Nations matches.

England flanker James Haskell believes his disciplinary record should have counted more in his favour after he received a four-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Jamie Roberts.

Haskell will miss England’s first two NatWest 6 Nations matches after being penalised for a high challenge on Roberts during Wasps’ European Champions Cup defeat by Harlequins last weekend.

The 32-year-old accepted his tackle deserved punishment but feels his past history, which includes a total of five weeks out for head-butting in 2008 and punching in 2012, should have been considered.

“Obviously it’s really disappointing, it was a complete accident, there was no intent in it,” Haskell told Press Association Sport.

“I’ve had an exemplary record since 2012 but they couldn’t give me full discount because I didn’t have a completely clean record.

“They want to make rugby safe and I agree if you make contact with the head it’s a dangerous play.

“The right verdict came out I just wish I had the dispensation for essentially playing 16 years professional rugby and having two things on my record, both for completely innocuous stuff.”

England will now be without Haskell for their Six Nations opener against Italy on February 4 and the following fixture with Wales six days later.

Haskell had just started regaining favour under Eddie Jones and he would likely have been involved in the trip to Rome.

“I had a chat with Eddie and explained the situation,” said Haskell, who was promoting his new book, ‘Perfect Fit’.

“He told me to make the most of the four weeks out and treat it like a mini pre-season. It’s put me out of the frame for England and I have to deal with the consequences.”

Jones has signed a new two-year contract extension, committing himself as England’s head coach until 2021, and beyond next year’s World Cup.

“I think it’s amazing. I thought like most people he would finish in 2019, hopefully after everyone had lifted the World Cup,” Haskell said.

“But Eddie has been an amazing asset to the English team. Everyone panicked about the foreign guy and all that bulls**t, but he’s been fantastic.”

Haskell’s own future, however, remains uncertain, with Wasps yet to offer him an extension to his deal, which expires at the end of the season.

He admits he is keeping his options open.

“You always want to stay with your club. I’ve been at Wasps a long time,” Haskell said.

“But they’ve got to make a decision whether they want me. That’s the difference. They’ve signed some good players and are looking to sign other players so we’ll see.

“Of course I’ve got to consider my options – it’s business isn’t it? You’re always talking to people. I’m not retiring any time soon and I want to play for England.”

‘Perfect Fit’ by James Haskell, and published by Hodder & Stoughton, is out now.

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