James Haskell joked “highly influential” England coach Eddie Jones still scares him and backed the Australian to secure Six Nations glory when the competition is finished this month.
The annual northern hemisphere tournament was suspended back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the final four matches to take place at the end of October.
Jones’ side are top of the table on points difference from France, whose win over England in round one means a grand slam is out of the question.
But Haskell believes the meticulous Jones will have consumed so much rugby that England, whose remaining match is away to Italy on October 31, will get the job done.
“I think I’m going to back England. Obviously, France had their opportunity but let it slip just before lockdown and the wheels sort of fell off the world,” Haskell told Stats Perform News.
“I think the reason I’m backing England is I know what Eddie would have been like in terms of communicating with the clubs and the players and he will have been watching, scrutinising these games.
“There’s been so much rugby for him to digest, two games a week when guys are getting opportunities, they’re playing lots of rugby, they’re going to be fit and ready to go during this period.
“There’s no building time, you have to hit the game straight off the bat – I think England are in a great position to do that, I can see them winning it. It obviously won’t be a grand slam Six Nations but it’ll be potentially another trophy in the locker.
“However, you just don’t know how the other teams have reacted, I think this period will probably be negative for France. They’ve played bits of rugby but been out of the mix for quite a while.”
— James Haskell (@jameshaskell) October 3, 2020
Former England forward Haskell was speaking to promote his autobiography ‘What a Flanker’, in which he discusses his relationship with Jones.
Haskell has nothing but admiration for Jones and the impact he had on his career, even if the Australian can still strike fear in him.
“Yeah of course, I spoke to Eddie about it [the book], he’s asked about it,” Haskell added.
“He was responsible for some of the best rugby of my career, he created an unbelievable winning environment, he showed me how to be the best player I could be.
“I always spoke to Eddie about stuff, I still speak to him now. I’m still scared of him now as I think most people are!
“He was hugely influential, I really admire the way he does things, his own path to self-development, his desire to keep getting better, his ever-evolving thought process and the fact he’s made mistakes and done things really well and learnt everything in between.
“That was really important to me, I speak about him in glowing terms, so he’s got nothing to worry about!”
James Haskell’s autobiography ‘What a Flanker!’ is now available through HarperCollins.