RUGBY UNION: ENGLAND star Chris Robshaw has backed sparring partner James Haskell for a British & Irish Lions call-up this summer, believing his strong personality would be perfect for the arduous task Warren Gatland’s side face in New Zealand.
Haskell’s international renaissance has been one of the stories of Eddie Jones’ tenure, helping England to back-to-back RBS 6 Nations crowns – but still he remains low down on many people’s ideal list of Lions contenders.
Lions Head coach Warren Gatland will name his 38-man squad to tour New Zealand next month, and it is far from certain that Wasps star Haskell, or Robshaw, will be on the plane with the back row one of the most competitive positions on the pitch.
But former England skipper Robshaw believes his fellow flanker’s humour and forceful personality would bring a lot to a seven-week tour – after showing he is back to his best following a long-term toe injury that kept him out for seven months.
“James is a good value to any squad and playing with him for England I know what he can bring off the field,” Robshaw said at the launch of the Crabbie’s National Rugby Awards – which will take place at Twickenham on August 30.
“He always brings that physicality and that experience, he has been around the world and playing in different leagues and then he has that character as well and you need that.
“Hask has done very well after that foot injury and then he had a couple of setbacks earlier in the year, and unfortunately he had concussion and his toe flared up a bit.
“But then to come back in and start RBS 6 Nations match and doing well again, it is where you want to be as a player, especially with the Lions round the corner.
“He is a massive boost to everyone on and off the pitch and that is a strength of his.
“I have known Hask since we were 17 or so we used to play against each other at school, and then through to the under-21s and then the senior side so it has always been a pleasure to play alongside him.
“Like everyone else I want to be on that plane but I have got be out there playing well and I know I need to do that in the next couple of games,
“It was fantastic to watch the RBS 6 Nations but you want to be out there playing. For England, it was always the ambition to win the Championship and that is the important thing.
“Yes, we wanted to win the Grand Slam but winning the title was vital for us so we are delighted to get it done.
“I can’t wait to get back out there. I love watching the game but of course I want to be out there. I am hoping to be back this weekend if I get through training and I can’t wait.
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