Rugby

Haskell left frustrated

2014-11-18 21:37
James Haskell (Gallo)

London - England's James Haskell said on Tuesday the entire squad were frustrated at their recent failure to beat the world's best sides and took no consolation from being "plucky runners-up".

The past fortnight has seen England beaten at home by both world champions New Zealand and South Africa, extending their losing streak to five straight matches - albeit four of those were against the All Blacks.

While both their two most recent reverses at Twickenham saw England lose by three points on each occasion, last-ditch tries gave a slightly flattering look to the scoreline in each case.

Moreover, they again raised questions as to whether 2015 World Cup hosts England would be able to mount a serious challenge for the Webb Ellis Trophy at next year's global showpiece tournament and made their remaining internationals this month, against Samoa and Australia, 'must-win' games - although there is rarely any other kind for a team that aspires to be among the world's very best.

Wasps back-row Haskell is in line to win his 51st cap against Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, a match where England coach Stuart Lancaster has been forecast to make changes to his side ahead of their November finale with World Cup pool opponents Australia.

And while there was a time when losing narrowly to the likes of New Zealand and South Africa, the two pre-eminent nations for most of rugby union's history, would have been regarded as something of a 'moral victory' for England, Haskell said that was no longer the case.

"I have been involved with England when we were getting beaten heavily by these sides and when a narrow loss would have been acceptable," Haskell said.

"But this side has now developed to a point where we have beaten the world champions and where we ultimately should be beating these teams and be right up there.

"It's very easy to see us as plucky runners-up, but not one person in this entire environment has ever said that is the case.

"No-one is satisfied to only be pushing those teams close. We realise we want to be beating them, we should be beating them and we are doing all the things in our power to make that happen."

Much has been made of the damage done to England's World Cup aspirations by their recent reverses but Haskell said there was plenty of time for things to change between now and the start of the tournament.

"Frankly, players don't sit here now talking about the World Cup, what we're going to do when we get there and how we're going to do it, because the rugby landscape changes dramatically from month to month," the loose forward said.

"Just because we lost on Saturday doesn't mean we're going to lose at the World Cup.

"We're aware that we have to develop and we're working hard to do that. I have every confidence we'll push those teams and get the results."

Read more on:    james haskell  |  rugby
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