Six Nations
Haskell: England have 'banished the demons'
Tom Hamilton
February 9, 2015
James Haskell connects with the post © Getty Images

England flanker James Haskell was relieved to banish some demons following their 21-16 win over Wales last Friday but says the attention has already switched to the challenge of facing Italy at Twickenham next weekend.

Haskell started for England on Friday in what was his first Six Nations match since their 30-3 loss against Wales in 2013. There was no such repeat of the drubbing as Haskell played an integral role in England's 21-16 win and he said the result was in part putting right the wrongs of two years ago.

While he exorcised the memories of 2013, his performance was a notch up on his last England start against Samoa in November. In the run up to Friday's match Haskell spoke of his own disappointment at how he fared but he was singled out post-match for praise by Stuart Lancaster who said it was "his best game for me in my time as England coach". Wales coach Warren Gatland also put forward the Wasps back-rower as his Man of the Match.

Though Haskell said they would enjoy the memorable win on Friday evening, he was quick to emphasise the shift in attention would quickly move to Saturday's match against Italy at Twickenham.

England will be overwhelming favourites for Saturday's match but Haskell said they will keep the same intensity and focus they harnessed in the days leading up to their game in Cardiff.

"The most difficult thing is that at the start of a Six Nations this is a great result and is one of the best nights in rugby you'll have - coming to the Millennium Stadium with all the build-up is exciting," Haskell said. "The problem is, it will last two days and then come Monday it's all about Italy. That's the beauty and negativity of being a professional rugby player.

"It will be our first game at home in this championship and we know what we are building. We have to respect Italy for what they are about - it is going to be another physical encounter; a big breakdown battle. We have a lot to work on - we don't want the win to cloud that - and we'll look forward to putting in a performance. Italy will the sole focus for us for the next week - everything else will take care of itself."

And despite all the positives of England's win over Wales, Haskell predicts their analysis session on Monday will highlight where they fell short on Friday night.

"If you've got any ambitions to be a world-class side, you have to be really tough on yourselves. The coaches will do a big presentation then the boys will do one-on-one feedback. I'll have to go through my game rigorously and I'm sure there are lots of things I can improve on. To get a win like we did is very special so I think we'll allow ourselves a few hours to smile, then the job will start again."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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