James Haskell: The misunderstood talent every rugby team needs

Ed Angeli

James Haskell, a player to regularly divide opinion; a big character always does. A man often in the headlines for either his off-field or on-field antics; a character who has been at the forefront of English rugby since the 2003 World Cup victory.

Wherever you stand in terms of liking Haskell, not just as a player, but as a person; you can not argue against how personalities such as the flanker’s are vital for the dressing room.

Of course, Haskell has not been without his controversies over the years, and it is important to not ignore such poor moments which have damaged the former Wasps’ skipper reputation throughout his long career in the game:

Without condoning these actions, such a personality with the reputation of Haskell was never going to see eye-to-eye with former England coach, Stuart Lancaster.

The head coach who had moral and ethics high on the agenda was never going to warm to a personality like Haskell’s – hence why the Wasps man only started one game in the 2015 World Cup – the dead rubber over Uruguay.

The limitations Haskell had under Lancaster stalled his international career; stalled him to not be recognised as a ‘world-class’ flanker.

However, his revival under Eddie Jones, a coach far more willing to show leniency to Haskell has seen a good player turn into this world-class player – evident in Haskell’s role in back-to-back Six Nations with an Australian series whitewash sandwiched in the middle.

A perfect character for tour – particularly when considering Haskell continues to mature into a figure head for the sport – and a player to lead from the front.

Haskell is renowned for his hard work; hard work which stretches outside of rugby to constantly challenge himself such as targets of becoming fluent in French, black belt in jujitsu, and a DJ.

A player of multiple personalities; a ‘loud mouth’ with a different edge; the perfect man on the Lions tour, and his character is no doubt playing a big role behind the scenes as the Lions head into the second test; the talent every rugby team needs.

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