Coach hails Haskell desire

England boss holds positive meeting with returning flanker

Last Updated: 04/06/12 7:15pm

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James Haskell: Looking to force his way into the England Test team

James Haskell: Looking to force his way into the England Test team

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England coach Stuart Lancaster says returning flanker James Haskell is keen to impress in South Africa.

The national side has undergone a transformation under Lancaster since Haskell was last involved during last autumn's terrible World Cup campaign.

The 27-year-old did not feature as Lancaster's tenure began with this year's RBS 6 Nations as he opted to play club rugby in Japan and New Zealand.

But after re-joining former club Wasps for next season, Lancaster included Haskell in his 42-man party for the upcoming three-Test series in South Africa.

And following the completion of his stint with Highlanders, Haskell has now joined up with the squad training in Durban ahead of Saturday's first Test.

Lancaster has never previously worked with Haskell, but when asked if he expected the player to fit in with his new regime, said: "I spoke one to one with James Haskell last night, it was a positive meeting.

Good impression

"Since the World Cup he has been at different clubs in different environments and, as he said to me, he is very keen to come in and make a good impression and force his way into the Test team. That is his aim.

"He is delighted to be here and very keen to put his front foot forward.

"Since the World Cup he has been at different clubs in different environments and, as he said to me, he is very keen to come in and make a good impression and force his way into the Test team. That is his aim."
Stuart Lancaster Quotes of the week

"He spoke of his experiences playing against the Super 15 sides and I talked him through the journey of the Six Nations, the training camp and where we are as a group.

"It was nice to meet him one to one and work with him."

Lancaster did concede that Haskell was unlikely to make the side for the first Springboks clash at Durban's Kings Park this weekend.

Due to what Lancaster described as "jetlag protocols" following Haskell's arrival from New Zealand, the player is yet to participate in a training session.

Makes hard

Lancaster said: "It doesn't preclude him but it makes it hard.

"He'll train at best tomorrow afternoon and then we have Wednesday off and we name the squad on Thursday morning.

"He won't have trained more than one session prior to announcing the team, so it does make it hard for the first Test."

Another face back in the fold is scrum-half Danny Care, who was overlooked for the Six Nations by Lancaster following a series of off-field incidents but ended a controversial season on a high with some influential performances as Harlequins claimed the Premiership title.

Lancaster said: "He has been good. He is obviously delighted to be back in and knows he is up against some stiff competition in Ben Youngs and Lee Dickson, who both had significant roles in the Six Nations.

"He knows he has got to work his way into the team but he has made a great start since he came back."

Lancaster sought to deflect some of the attention from captain Chris Robshaw, who also ended the season in devastating form for Harlequins.

The 26-year-old, who has just six caps to his name, led the country impressively in the Six Nations but is now making a big step up to lead on tour.

Lancaster said: "I have always said the leadership is not just about one iconic figure at the top.

"He has been a brilliant captain through the Six Nations, and obviously done a great job at Harlequins, but he is surrounded by a good group of senior players who support him as well."

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