Rugby Union

Haskell will have to improve his league form if he is to be selected for future internationals.

Eddie Jones digs himself a hole when telling tractor driver James Haskell he was dropped

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England head coach Eddie Jones recently rocked up at James Haskell's house to tell the back rower about his ejection from the 35-man squad to face Argentina on November 11.

But, what the Australian wasn't expecting was to see an enormous JCB vehicle parked on the Wasps man's driveway. 

Eddie Jones joked about how he feared that he'd dug himself a hole by dropping the flanker for the upcoming internationals. 

“He had a giant JCB ­tractor parked outside his house!” exclaimed Jones.

“I had to make sure he didn’t have the keys and didn’t chase me in it. I’m serious!”

32-year-old Haskell deems it as a “big tractor for a big man”.

The Wasps flanker, who earned a call up for the Lions this summer after Billy Vunipola's injury, has been out of form thus far in the Aviva Premiership this season.

The Coventry-based club have picked up just the one win and five defeats so far this campaign. Their 41-10 victory against Harlequins last weekend was much needed, and Haskell has featured in every game.

Eddie Jones has acknowledged, however, that the former Stade Francais man has 75 caps and has been an important player over the last 10 years for England Rugby.

Wasps Photocall

“He knows he’s a bit off the pace,” Jones explained. “But the door is never shut on him. We know he’s a great player and has been a great servant to English rugby for several years and close to 80 caps. I am sure he can regain his form.”

Haskell has made himself available to the Barbarians who encounter New Zealand at Twickenham on November 4.

His replacement, Exeter Cheifs' Sam Simmonds, was somewhat off the radar for England squad contention. He made his Chiefs debut in 2017 against Wasps after previous stints at Cornish Pirates and Plymouth Albion. 

But, it is the 22-year-old's incredible versatility which has seen the back row forward 13 tries in 22 Aviva Premiership games. He was at the fulcrum of the Chief's league win last year.

Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs - Aviva Premiership

Jones admits: “What I like about him is his work off the ball, his ­support lines and he is very good ­defensively. 

“He is one of those players who can play at 6, 7 or 8, so I see him as a utility ­back-rower. He is probably going to struggle at No.8 at international level because of his size, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it.”

The 100kg Simmonds certainly offers complete attributes of pace, try-scoring ability, and defensive awareness to a greater extent than other heavier options like Haskell, Billy Vunipola, and Nathan Hughes.

There is no doubt Simmonds is the man in form and has earned his place in the England team, but JCB driving Haskell will be back, let's hope the Wasps man won't come chasing after Jones when it comes to the next squad announcement.

England Rugby
London Wasps
James Haskell
Rugby Union

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