June International Tours

Haskell’s days with England not over:Johnson


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Martin Johnson has insisted that James Haskell is still a key figure in his plans for England even though Johnson dropped him to the bench for Saturday’s second Test against Argentina.

Johnson made two changes to the side that beat Argentina 37-15 at Old Trafford and one of those changes is Harlequins forward Chris Robshaw who will make his Test debut at blindside flanker.

Robshaw’s promotion to the starting line up effectively pushed Haskell down to the bench. Haskell will leave Wasps to join Stade Francais next season and his demotion means that he is now England’s third choice in the No 6 jersey.

In contrast, last year on England’s June tour to New Zealand Haskell was one of the few players to return from a controversial series with his reputation enhanced.

While Johnson admitted that the 24-year-old did have room for improvement, he insisted that Haskell is not drifting out of the picture.

“James is disappointed because he wants to start. We won last weekend so it’s hard for James now,” Johnson told the Yorkshire Post.

“But we had a specific plan for the first Test and it worked.”

“We have a different plan for Saturday and Chris is a different player in the position.

“It’s still early in James’s career and he has a lot of improvements to make.” Johnson explained.

“He played pretty well last weekend but he can get better.”

“James hasn’t slipped away. He started England’s last game which was a win. It’s about picking a certain player to do a certain role.

“James is very dynamic and can give us a real impetus from the bench in the last quarter of the game.”

Robshaw’s call up to the England starting line up is the highlight of a fantastic year for the 23-year-old, who was crowned Guinness Premiership player of the season last month.

“I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground,” Robshaw said.

“I was expecting a quiet trip, especially after the team had a great win last week. Playing is a huge bonus.”

The other change to the England line up was Leicester prop Julian White replacing Newcastle’s David Wilson at tighthead.

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