RBS 6 NATIONS
ENGLAND flanker James Haskell insists Martin Johnson’s side must be ruthless against Scotland at Twickenham on Sunday and be prepared for a physical onslaught.
The RBS 6 Nations clash marks 100 years since the first meeting between the two rivals at Twickenham with the visitors in search of their first win of the 2011 tournament following defeats against France, Wales and Ireland.
But Stade Francais star Haskell is well aware of Scotland’s strength in the back row, highlighting the need to win the personal battles and respect their unshakable spirit.
Haskell said: “It is going to be tough, they have lots of big ball-carriers and we have to make sure we stop these guys from being disruptive and competing for our ball.
“You always want to get one up on your opposite number, to have the opportunity to make that tackle that lets him know you are there.
“Andy Robinson is a world class coach. He’ll make sure that if they don’t start well, they will fight back. With Scotland it is never over until it’s over.
“They have a lot of quality players who can score from anywhere at the right time. If you get ahead you can’t let them back in the game, you’ve got to be ruthless and I think that is the term we really have to push this week.”
Haskell, 25, started in victories over Wales, Italy and France but that does not guarantee him the No7 shirt against Scotland.
With Leicester and British Lions flanker Tom Croft back and declared fit having recovered from a shoulder injury, the competition for places in the back row is intense.
“First and foremost you are a team and you are all pulling in the same direction,” said Haskell. “I’m good friends with Wood, Croft and Moody. Your relationship off the field is what you make it and I really respect them.
“At the same time though you have to make sure that you are as competitive as you can be. We are a tight knit team but you have to fight it out.
“Luckily it is the coaches that make the decisions so it is very important that we keep pushing ourselves.”