England flanker James Haskell believes his side’s victory over Scotland in their Six Nations opener at Murrayfield on Saturday has gone some way to silencing their World Cup critics.
Tries from second row George Kruis and wing Jack Nowell helped the Red Rose to a 15-9 Calcutta Cup success, while yesterday’s draw between Ireland and Wales boosted hopes of a first Six Nations title since 2011.
Haskell was a member of the country’s ill-fated World Cup campaign in the autumn when England assumed the unwanted tag of the first host nation to suffer group-stage elimination.
England have taken an early lead at the summit of the Six Nations table, and the 30-year-old Wasps co-captain insists victory in new head coach Eddie Jones’ first match in charge was hugely significant.
“It was massively important for us to get off on the right foot,” said Haskell. “There was a lot of pressure coming into the game, whether we wanted to about it or not.
“There was a new group of players coming together, things were written about us post-World Cup that I didn’t believe to be true so it was important that we shut a few people up and got our first notch on the ladder but there is a lot more work to be done.”
England’s next fixture is against perennial Six Nations strugglers Italy in Rome. The Azzurri opened their campaign with a narrow 23-21 defeat to France in Paris on Saturday.