Wednesday 6th December 2006
London Wasps flanker James Haskell is currently in George, South Africa with the England Sevens team. He earned his first cap last weekend in the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, where England lost in the semi finals to eventual winners South Africa. The former England Under 21 player catches up with rfu.com and explains why sevens is certainly no holiday....
"Dubai was my first tournament with England Sevens and I have to admit that the first game was pretty tough. It seemed like a baptism by fire as it was pretty hot and the game went from end to end for the first four minutes. I did think that I wouldn't be able to keep that kind of pace up for another five games but luckily I settled in and found my sevens lungs. I really enjoyed it when I got into my sevens grove, and was really glad I had done the hours of extra fitness training before I came out here.
To be fair I really enjoyed the South Africa match (semi final) even though we lost, as it was really competitive and fast. All the boys were very disappointed as when you lose because you are outclassed then that's one thing, but we felt we could have won that match. A few things didn't go our way, but we had the potential to win and we just didn't execute those chances and so it is pretty hard to handle in that situation. It is certainly a learning curve for all of us that you can be in control of the game for five minutes and then one try either side of half time and in sevens you are massively on the back foot and there is very little time to recover.
I really enjoyed the whole experience of playing in Dubai. Despite the torrential rain there was a fantastic atmosphere. When I have played for an England team in the past England are never the most popular team in the tournament and yet in Dubai everyone was cheering for us. I have been assured that this changes when we head to Wellington but it was interesting and enjoyable to play in those circumstances with such a massive crowd behind England.
Being part of the sevens set up is all part of my learning and development as an England player. Wasps have been really supportive and are always proud when any of their players represents their country. No one can really argue with what Mike Friday (England Sevens Coach) has achieved in terms of developing the next generation of England players. I am finding it particularly helpful with my attacking plan - when to pass and how to watch the defensive players to know what to do in attack. I know I have still got a long way to go with sevens but I am learning all the time, and really pushing myself. I am finding this a challenge which I enjoy. There are some areas that I tend to neglect in XVs as I don't get the chance to work on them to this degree so hopefully Wasps will notice some improvements when I return.
Everyone is really focused on this weekend's tournament and training has been going well despite the high temperatures. South Africa are certainly the favourites once again this weekend but everyone in the England squad is putting in the hard work and trying to do everything we can to ensure England get an all important tournament win before we come home."
Keep up to date with James and the rest of the England Sevens team's progress at rfu.com/sevens
Highlights of George will also be broadcast on the BBC.