Welcome back to New Zealand James Haskell, it’s great to have you here and congratulations on your selection to The British & Irish Lions 2017 squad.

James Haskell © Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix
James Haskell from the Highlanders © Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix

The Highlander

James Haskell gained respect in New Zealand for taking the road less travelled. In 2011 James, an England test player jumped out of his comfort zone and rolled up his sleeves with The Highlanders. The path from south to north is well worn but few have done what Haskell has.

Speaking on The British & Irish Lions Youtube channel Haskell spoke of New Zealand:

You’ve got massively passionate support. The rugby they want to play is very free flowing.

It’s very welcoming, steeped in history and obviously, New Zealand is a beautiful place as well.

England Regular

Taking risks and not being afraid to learn is a common thread throughout Haskell’s career. Hard work, curiosity and an open mind have seen Haskell go from a promising youngster to a regular in Eddie Jones’ England and now he takes a seat at The Lions table.

James Haskell PICTURE BY JEREMY RATA/SWPIX.COM
November 2009. England’s James Haskell drives through New Zealand’s Dan Carter Copyright – Simon Wilkinson – 07811267706

Haskell is one of the true characters of the game, a glance at his social media channels offer a colourful insight into the all too often bland world of professional rugby players. His self-depreciating humour with Owen Farrell on youtube is quite addictive.

James Haskell Photo: Rob Jefferies / photosport.co.nz
James Haskell on the charge for the Highlanders. Rob Jefferies / photosport.co.nz

Haskell 3 – Australia 0

The new Lion has found the consistency, confidence and impact at Test level that may have been lacking a few years ago. His time with The Highlanders and arrival of Eddie Jones has seen him transformed into an excellent back row. Haskell’s performances against Australia in England’s unbeaten three test series last year were the best of his career. Haskell has earned his Lions call-up.

James Haskell Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan / www.photosport.nz
2017 British & Irish Lions, James Haskell, Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan / www.photosport.nz

The 1014 wish you well James, we’re looking forward to seeing you on the paddock. Enjoy your tour, you’ve earned it!

Photos: www.photosport.nz

Author: Gareth Dinneen

Gareth is from Limerick, Ireland and has been obsessed with the All Blacks and NZ culture since 1989. He first arrived in NZ in 2001 to tutor in New Media and has since worked with Weta Digital on movies like Avatar, King Kong, The Avengers and most recently Valerian. Gareth grew up listening to his father Len on sports radio. Len is known as ‘The Voice of Rugby’ in Munster, Ireland. The 1014 brings Gareth right back to his sports media roots.

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