Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

James Haskell warns England not to be 'distracted by the side-show' in Wales

James Haskell has learned from experience that England must be oblivious to any campaign designed to unsettle them in Cardiff on Saturday.

Eddie Jones' men opened their RBS 6 Nations title defence with a 15th successive victory when they toppled France at Twickenham, but a more daunting assignment is due against Wales this weekend.

Haskell's record in the Welsh capital is played six, won two, lost four, and the Wasps back row was present for the harrowing 30-3 collapse at the Principality Stadium in 2013 and the 21-16 triumph two years later to which he was significant contributor.

Well versed in the ambush that awaits - on their most recent visit to Cardiff, England became embroiled in a tunnel stand-off with officials - on Monday morning, it fell to Haskell to address the squad on what to expect.

"You know you what Wales are going to do. As a team they are very direct. But it is one thing knowing, it another thing stopping it," he said.

"We have to go there solely focused on ourselves but understand exactly what it is about.

"When we went there and lost the Grand Slam in 2013 we were a bit wet behind the ears in terms of what to expect. Last time we understood that.

"There were guys who had had that experience before and we have that in the squad now ready to kick on.

"It is about not being distracted by the side-show that goes with it. It is about not being distracted by the crowd and the noise. You have to go there, deliver your job and then leave.

"Everyone wants to beat England. Everyone is always hostile, especially to me. The (Principality Stadium) is up there. The Welsh are passionate fans."

Haskell famously ran into one a post at the stadium two years ago as he hurtled towards the whitewash in search of a rare try.

"That was the closest I have been to scoring a try in a while. Everyone laughed at it but I almost broke my neck," he said.

"I managed to not lose the ball and we scored the next phase, so I will take that. I thought I would do the old hit and spin. Unfortunately my radar was a bit off.

"These things happen, you know. It has made a great highlight reel and comedy so I have brought that to the world."


From Belfast Telegraph