Haskell given Lions audition in Dublin

James Haskell will get a chance to stake his case for inclusion in the British & Irish Lions tour party this summer after beign named in the England starting XV for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland in Dublin. [more]

Haskell given Lions audition in Dublin

James Haskell will get a chance to stake his case for inclusion in the British & Irish Lions tour party this summer after beign named in the England starting XV for Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland in Dublin.

The injury to Gloucester No 8 Ben Morgan has given Haskell the chance to move up from the replacements bench and step into a Lions audition in front of head coach Warren Gatland at the Aviva Stadium against the much vaunted Irish back row trio of Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip.

Tom Wood switches from No 6 to No 8 to accommodate Haskell, who will be winning his 47th cap, on the flank. Other than that, England head coach Stuart Lancaster has stuck with the side that beat Scotland at Twickenham last weekend.

It will be Haskell’s first RBS 6 Nations start since England’s Grand Slam dreams were wrecked by Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in 2011. Last weekend’s 35 minute cameo performance off the bench, when he made 10 tackles, hit 16 rucks and won four turnovers, earned him a recall.

“I had no idea what was going to happen, I had no idea that I was going to get the opportunity to come back in. I’ve had to fight my way back in, but that’s the same for everyone because there is always competition,” said Haskell.

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“Stuart respects that. Guys who have performed at this level do have a little credit, but it’s about the guys playing best at the moment. There have always been times, with new coaches coming in, when I have looked down the barrel of not playing for England again. I never knew whether I was going to get an opportunity again.

“But I knew that if I got the chance to work in this environment, that if Stuart got to know me, he could see that I was passionate about England and this team, that I will keep fighting and do everything I could to get involved in the squad because it means that much to me.”

The fit again Manu Tuilagi has to make do with a place on the bench following the spectacular debut against the Scots by Billy Twelvetrees. Tuilagi replaces Dave Strettle among the replacements, while Leicester Tigers No 8 Tom Waldrom replaces Haskell.

“We were pleased with our intent to play against Scotland. A lot of the players performed very well and with Manu coming back into the equation it gave us some selection decisions,” admitted Lancaster.

“But with the centres playing well last week and Manu still returning to match fitness, having not played for the last four weeks, he and others will give us great options from the bench in what I am sure will be a physical encounter.”

England
15. Alex Goode (Saracens)

14. Chris Ashton (Saracens)
13. Brad Barritt (Saracens)
12. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)
11. Mike Brown (Harlequins)

10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
6. James Haskell (London Wasps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt)
8. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Replacements
16. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
17. David Wilson (Bath)
18. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
20. Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins)
22. Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
23. Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
 

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