Haskell annoyed over flanker debate

Date published: January 22 2016

James Haskell has given his opinion on the problems surrounding England’s number seven jersey.

Many felt that former England coach Stuart Lancaster didn’t do himself any favours by leaving French-based flanker Steffon Armitage out of the Rugby World Cup squad.

However, Haskell believes it doesn’t matter what jersey you wear. 

"People have got to stop worrying about what numbers you've got on a shirt. They've got so obsessed, about seven, six-and-a-half. It's bull****," quipped the 30-year-old to the Daily Express.

"It doesn't matter. It's the back row balance which is most important.

"It was a big feature of the World Cup. Everyone was obsessed with whether Robbo [Chris Robshaw] was the right man for the job or whether we should have Steffon Armitage in there. So many pundits wanted Steffon but I don't think it was relevant.

"Was our balance right at the World Cup? Maybe it wasn't quite right. Did we have too many workhorses? We had Billy Vunipola to carry and then two guys who were quite similar."

In terms of his club responsibilities, Haskell revealed he would be playing in the number seven spot for Wasps if it wasn't for the presence of one George Smith. 

"The position I have played most in the last four years is number seven," continued the Wasps captain. 

"I would probably be playing there more now for Wasps if we didn't have the ultimate seven in George Smith here. But I have never played as an out and out 7 in any side.

"The reason I'm involved in the squad is my carrying, my tackling and then what I do at the breakdown. I don't want to become a player who spends half his time running round after the breakdown. That's not going to get the best out of me."