James Haskell Thinks He Knows Why Most Nations Don’t Like England
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What a character.
James Haskell returns to England’s starting line-up against Ireland today, no doubt hoping he can return the favour from last year and spoil any potential Grand Slam celebrations.
Ahead of the game Haskell tried to answer the eternal question, why do most nations take such joy in defeating England over any other team?
“It’s what happens when you used to run the world isn’t it? It’s down to empire building. It got done a long, long time ago.” Haskell said.
“I never once got in my boat and said, ‘Right you’re part of Great Britain’. I can’t be held responsible for it.”
“It’s an easy motivation factor for other sides because of the long, entrenched history. It’s very difficult for us to feel the same. If you know your history we are partly to blame.
“I try to approach my life in sport with passion, intensity and a desire to come out on top and win, but I don’t hate anyone.
“When you’re playing for England you want to stay involved, you want to win at all costs and you want to win – and those are motivating factors enough.
“The emotion of having to throw your head at someone’s knees and fire in takes it up. And that might spill over a bit.”
All “hatred” aside, the Wasps back-row is looking forward to meeting up with some of his Lions buddies from last summer’s tour of New Zealand.
“The best thing about the Lions tour for me was meeting people and seeing them outside of the rugby arena,” Haskell said.
“There are a lot of people who cross that whitewash and turn into absolute nightmares. Then when you see them off the field they are the loveliest bloke you have ever met.
“It is nice now because you know some of these boys and can have a conversation. In terms of when the opening whistle goes, all bets are off, friendships go out the window and you put your performance in and have a bit of a ruck.
“As soon as you humanise anything and understand people and have a beer and a laugh with them that’s the way sport goes.
“Johnny Sexton was a really interesting guy. He’s a very passionate player, very on the line and a talisman for Ireland, but it was great to meet him. He’s a top guy, same with Conor Murray.
“Tadhg Furlong was a great hugger. I should have guessed he would be. I shared a room with him and I was obviously looking a bit tired so he asked me if I wanted a hug.
“I looked at him and said, ‘Come on then’ and it was just a really nice hug. That was quite nice. Then I put my clothes back on. That’s bonding on tour!”