Haskell heads to Japan

James Haskell has become the first current England international to agree a move to Japan. [more]

Haskell heads to Japan

James Haskell has become the first current England international to agree a move to Japan.

The blindside flanker has signed a one-year deal with the Ricoh Black Rams, with the contract starting after this autumn’s World Cup.

Haskell then intends to play the 2012 Super 15 season for an Australian, New Zealand or South African franchise before heading home to England in time for the start of the 2012/13 season.

The 26-year-old, who will join All Black centre Ma’a Nonu at the Black Rams after being released by cash-strapped Stade Francais, has also committed to a three-year deal with former club Wasps once his foreign adventure ends in 12 months time.

"I believe I come back to Wasps both a better player and a more rounded individual as a result of my experiences abroad," said Haskell, who spent seven seasons as part of the Wasps academy and senior set up before leaving the club for France in 2009.

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"Wasps have been extremely far-sighted and generous in allowing me to continue my overseas adventures for one more season.

"I have a plan which seeks to maximise this unique opportunity before I return to Wasps, by experiencing playing the game in a number of different arenas.

"I hope by exposing myself to different coaching, cultures and playing styles, I will gain a greater understanding of the world game, which will hopefully be beneficial to both Wasps and myself for the 2012/13 season."

Haskell hopes to first cement a place in the England squad for the World Cup, although his move to Japan and then one of the three southern hemisphere giants will make representing his country after the global gathering in New Zealand highly unlikely.

But when he does arrive back in England in the summer of 2012, Haskell is convinced he will be rejoining a Wasps side on an upward curve.

The former European Champions announced Dai Young as their new head coach earlier in the week and appear determined to bounce back from a disappointing campaign in which they finished ninth in the Premiership and were knocked out of the Heineken Cup at the group stages.

"I have had lengthy dialogue with the senior management at Wasps and am in no doubt as to their commitment and energy in endeavouring to restore the club to its rightful position at the top of the tree," added Haskell.

"I am hugely encouraged by the quality of the new and proposed signings the club has made.

"As everyone knows, my family and I were fans of Wasps long before I was privileged to be invited to join the Wasps Academy.

"So returning to the club that has been pivotal in propelling me to where I am fortunate enough to stand today, was not one of the harder decisions I have ever had to make."

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