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No place like home for Haskell

We caught up with back-row James Haskell this week ahead of the Club’s crucial Amlin Challenge Cup tie against French side Bayonne.

Haskell, who returned to the Club this season after three years overseas, made his 100th Wasps appearance last month against Saracens, and says he is relishing life back at his old Club.

“I didn’t realise it was the 100th game until afterwards but it’s a nice achievement. I had always wanted to come back home to Wasps and it’s been good to come back in and try and fit in with what Dai Young is trying to do here. I had been out of the loop for a while and a lot has changed in three years. Hopefully the problems the Club has had are behind us and we’re starting to do our talking on the pitch now. For me it’s been great to come back in and see a lot of young guys really starting to push through the ranks. Guys like Sam Jones, Joe Launchbury and Billy Vunipola are all hugely talented players to have pushing into our pack and it’s good to see that sort of enthusiasm that they are bringing to training every day.”

Ahead of the game against Bayonne on Thursday night, Haskell, who played for two years in France with Stade Francais, says his side face a tough clash.

“They’re a side with a lot of rugby rock stars in their team and they can turn it on and cause you a lot of problems on their day, so we’ve got to play pretty well to get this win. We want to progress in this competition, like every one we’re competing in, and we’ve put ourselves in a decent position and need to just back it up this Thursday. I was lucky enough to be involved in a side who got to an Amlin Challenge Cup final with Stade and I know that progressing throughout a Cup campaign can give you a lot of confidence.”

Having recently returned from England duty, Haskell is also enjoying being back in the international mix.

“Playing for England at Twickenham still gives me such a massive high. Everything about it, the anthems, the noise, the flames as you run out and everything that goes with it still makes the hair stand up at the back of your neck, and I really enjoyed the last few games. In 45 caps I’ve never been involved in a win over a southern hemisphere side so it was fantastic to get on and play a part in the win over New Zealand.”

He adds that he has been very impressed at the ease with which Wasps teammate Joe Launchbury has taken to international rugby.

“He’s a quiet lad and he gets a lot of respect for how he does his talking on the field. To be honest he is the polar opposite to me off the pitch but we get on very well! He has taken his chance and winning the QBE Man of the Series is testament to that. He’s come back with a spring in his step and fair play to him; he’s got a big future.”

After Thursday night's game there will be a presentation to mark Haskell's achievement of 100 games for the Club.

London Wasps play Bayonne on Thursday, December 13 at Adams Park at 19.45. To be there call 0844 225 2990 or book online here.

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