Haskell focusing on Scotland
England star says he has ironed things out with Stade after 'club v country' row
Last Updated: 09/03/10 6:55pm
England's James Haskell has insisted his attentions are firmly focused on this weekend's RBS Six Nations clash with Scotland after the 'club versus country' argument he became embroiled in last week.
The flanker's club side, Stade Francais, wanted Haskell to be released from the England squad for Saturday's Top 14 match against Toulouse, with Stade president Max Guazzini arguing there was no agreement which gave England priority access in a non-Test week.
Guazzini went so far as to accuse the Rugby Football Union of holding the player "hostage", although Haskell confirmed on Monday night that his club contract does in fact contain the required international release clauses - the player blaming the storm on a "misunderstanding" at Stade's end.
The 24-year-old said that he intended to hold talks with Stade once the Six Nations was over in the hope of avoiding any future conflict but added that, for now, his only concern was Saturday's Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield.
"The situation resolved for me as soon as this week started. I have a massive challenge against Scotland and as a professional you can't let anything interfere with that," Haskell said.
"There was always going to be some question because this is the first Six Nations I have been involved in since going over to France. It was difficult to know what to expect.
"I can't go into details of my contract but I feel that my situation is covered. I made sure everything in my contract is there for me to be released for England.
"Obviously there is some ambiguity over that and I have to go back to Stade and iron things out.
"But I would be letting everyone else down if I allowed it creep into my mindset and Martin Johnson wouldn't tolerate it. As soon as I knew I was staying in England I put it out of my mind.
"My focus has been on my rugby and making sure I am ready for the massive challenge of one of the best back rows we are going to face."
Haskell kept a diplomatic silence when the matter became public last week but has now said he felt aggrieved at the perception that he would have moved to Stade without making the necessary provisions to play for England.
"What I have found difficult to stomach is people questioning whether I have taken the time and detail to make sure this move was the right thing (for England)," said Haskell.
"When you make a massive move like this you have to make sure all your ducks are in a line. It was a very long process and my lawyer sat down for a long period of time to make sure the situation was OK."
In the long-term, Haskell expressed confidence that the situation will not affect his relationship with the club.
"Stade have been so supportive of me, especially Max. They have been great about releasing me for various things," Haskell added.
"I have been very honest with Stade Francais, they have been honest with me and a lot of my form is down to them embracing me and allowing me to settle in and find a new life there.
"I am very comfortable there and I want that to continue when I get back."