Six Nations
Haskell hopes England play right tune
PA Sport
February 22, 2015
Youngs: England must amend defensive mistakes

England will never again choke in a Grand Slam decider on boss Stuart Lancaster's watch, according to trainee DJ and Test back-rower James Haskell.

The Wasps loose forward cannot sit still as he recounts England's spectacularly-botched Grand Slam effort in 24-8 Dublin defeat to Ireland in March 2011.

The 29-year-old is a constant fidget and agitator for personal progress: these days you can find him shaking off his Test-match itch by scratching records in the DJ booth.

James Haskell batters into the post as the Wales defence scrambles to cover, Wales v England, Six Nations Championship, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, February 6, 2015
James Haskell provided one of the most memorable moments of the Six Nations so far when he battered into the post during England's win over Wales © Getty Images

The fast-talking flanker believes England's 21-16 victory over Wales in Cardiff - a revenge mission for the record 30-3 defeat in 2013 that blew another Grand Slam - proves Lancaster's men no longer crack under pressure.

Haskell hopes England can now ease memories of that 2011 crime too, when they face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in RBS 6 Nations action on March 1.

"It was a very different place in terms of the structure with England and the coaches and where we were," said Haskell, of the 2011 vintage under then-boss Martin Johnson.

"I don't think you will ever see an occasion where something like that [Grand Slam collapse in Dublin] happens because boys are too experienced.

"The squad has moved on now. Everyone back then still wanted to play for England and play well, so I think they get a harsh rap.

"But with Stuart [Lancaster] coming in, we have a game plan that is very clear and concise and it suits the players that are playing it. That is the difference."

Haskell had feared his part in England's 2013 Grand Slam disappointment against Wales in Cardiff could end his Test career.

The former Stade Francais star fell by the wayside in Lancaster's squad after that dark day at the Millennium Stadium, only finally making an international return 15 months later on last summer's New Zealand tour.

Haskell righted that Cardiff wrong amid victory in Wales at the top of this year's Six Nations, and if he can remedy that 2011 Dublin disaster on March 1, Lancaster's men will be on for the Grand Slam.

As the Six Nations pressure mounts up and external chatter builds, Haskell will retreat into the noise-cancelling shells of his headphones, and get to work on his latest passion, striving to become rugby's answer to Calvin Harris.

"I'm not going to be a world-class DJ anytime soon, but in terms of being able to do it, I'm nearly there," said Haskell.

"I don't have a DJ name yet. I promise I won't be like a wedding singer, like: 'the buffet is ready, I'm too sexy!'

"I've got a few things on my bucket list: I want to get my black belt in Jiu-jitsu, I want to be completely fluent in French, learn to DJ; go on a cookery course.

"I've always used music as a tool, to help my performance. When I first started seeing my sports psychologist 11 years ago, we talked about how to always get the best performance out of players.

"Imagine you go to Ireland and wake up on the morning of the match, and for some reason you're feeling tired, you're not feeling great, or one day you wake up and feel amazing.

"I use music to help me maintain consistency; I've had some really weird stuff in there, Cher and even S Club 7."

Haskell also hailed flanker Peter O'Mahony as Ireland's new "talisman", anticipating a fulsome back-row encounter.

Munster captain O'Mahony signed a new three-year Thomond Park deal this week, and Haskell expects fireworks in Dublin - but warned England not to make the loose forward battle personal.

"Peter O'Mahony has developed over the last two or three years into a real world-class player," said Haskell. "He is a bit of a talisman for Ireland, he will raise his game.

"You don't often get a case where you dominate the back-row and lose the game, but you can't get into a one-on-one battle with it.

"If you go hunting for that you are completely out of the mix for the other things you are supposed to do."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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