England 12-19 France, Rugby World Cup, October 8, 2011
Haskell defends under-fire England squad
ESPNscrum Staff
October 8, 2011
England's James Haskell poses while undertaking a bungy jump, Queenstown, New Zealand, September 12, 2011
James Haskell was one of a group of England players that made headlines when they did a bungee jump over the Nevis River in Queenstown © Getty Images
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James Haskell has denied claims off-the-field incidents cost England dear at the World Cup, insisting they worked as hard as they could and that no-one was in New Zealand on a "jolly".

England were beaten 19-12 by France, who march on to face Wales in the semi-finals while Martin Johnson's men head home having suffered their worst World Cup finish in 12 years.

Johnson defended those players who were criticised for enjoying a drunken night out in Queenstown, while Haskell was one of three players to face allegations lodged by a hotel worker in Dunedin.

Although those incidents have created a media storm, Haskell maintained the England players could not have been more dedicated to the World Cup cause.

"I think we have been as professional as we could've been," said Haskell. "I think guys have worked as hard as they can. Unfortunately there's been a couple of incidents that have caught the headlines - other teams have enjoyed what New Zealand has to offer and seem to have done it in relative peace.

"Unfortunately it's always the way with British teams. It's a shame, because there's a lot of good support for this side and we wanted to make sure we went out there and did justice for this country and ourselves.

"At times we did that and we didn't allow that negative feeling from certain quarters to interfere because, frankly, it wasn't accurate. "I think people have to realise we're all professional sportsmen. We all work as hard as we possibly can, everyone has that desire to put that shirt on and do well and no-one was here on a jolly.

"That was never the case. I think it's just disappointing. No doubt people will point fingers, when that was just never the case."

Haskell was one of England's stand-out performers through the tournament and he was disappointed to have been dropped to the bench this weekend. The versatile back-row forward will now head to Tokyo and a stint with the Ricoh Black Rams. At the end of the Japanese season Haskell will either move to a Super 15 franchise or head home to play in the Six Nations and then link up with Wasps earlier than expected.

"I'm not sure what will happen now. When the guys regroup for the Six Nations I'm sure there will be a lot of positives to take away," said Haskell. "I've always maintained that if you look around the changing room at the team we've got and the talent, you see for moments in games we can tear teams apart.

"We've always lacked a little bit of consistency, a bit of composure, and come undone in pressure moments."

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