Haskell rues record after suspension

by AFP

James Haskell has been left to rue infringements earlier in his career which the Wasps back-row believes contributed to a ban that will rule him out of England's opening two Six Nations matches next month.

Haskell was given a four week-ban after being sent off for a dangerous tackle on Jamie Roberts that saw him catch the Wales centre during Wasps' European Champions Cup defeat by Harlequins last weekend.

The 32-year-old Haskell accepted he deserved punishment but, despite having a largely 'clean' disciplinary record for the past six years, he feels previous offences led to a ban that will see him miss champions England's Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on February 4 and the following week's match against Wales at Twickenham. 

James Haskell has been left out of the England squad. Photo: Getty ImagesHaskell served bans totalling five weeks for head-butting in 2008 and punching in 2012.

"Obviously it's really disappointing, it was a complete accident, there was no intent in it," Haskell said on Thursday of his tackle on Roberts.

"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," the 75-times capped loose forward added.

"They want to make rugby safe and I agree if you make contact with the head it's a dangerous play," explained Haskell, promoting his new book, 'Perfect Fit'.

“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."

With the likes of Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes both injured, Haskell was set to become an increasingly important part of England coach Eddie Jones's back-row plans this season, until his suspension.

Billy Vunipola is out of the Six Nations. Photo: Getty Images"I had a chat with Eddie and explained the situation," said Haskell. "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."

England have won 22 out of 23 Tests under Jones and this week saw the Rugby Football Union announce he had signed a contract extension until 2021, taking the former Australia and Japan boss well beyond his original departure date of the end of next year's World Cup.

Haskell for one is delighted that Jones, who was Australia's coach when England beat them for their one and so far only World Cup title in a dramatic Sydney final back in 2003, has agreed to extend his stay.

"I thought like most people he would finish in 2019, hopefully after everyone had lifted the World Cup. But Eddie has been an amazing asset to the English team."

As for his own future the globe-trotting Haskell, whose career has included spells in New Zealand, France and Japan, was uncertain.

"You always want to stay with your club. I've been at Wasps a long time," he 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."