ENGLAND flanker James Haskell has hit back at France coach Marc Lievremont’s jibes, insisting they will not back down when Les Bleus visit Twickenham for a colossal RBS 6 Nations contest on Saturday.
Lievremont lit the touchpaper ahead of a match already being billed as a championship decider by saying all the other five countries in the competition were united in their hatred of the English.
The comments are sure to add further spice to an already combustible occasion, and Haskell, who knows all about the French from playing his club rugby at Stade Francais, is expecting a no-holds-barred encounter.
“A French team coming to Twickenham to right a few wrongs will be a very emotional occasion. But what you can’t do is back off, they’re going to be up in your face, it’s going to be a fantastic battle and something we’ll thrive on,” said Haskell.
“If you allow them to keep their heads up and play and get that emotional side, that a lot of French sides have, up then it’s very difficult to play. What you’ve got to do is get in there straight from the start and make sure that you make the day as difficult as possible and then you can start imposing your own game.”
England boss Martin Johnson has recalled captain Lewis Moody to the squad to face France after he returned from a knee injury in Bath’s win over Northampton at the weekend.
Harlequins forward Chris Robshaw and London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero have been called up but Leicester star Tom Croft misses out, while Wasps’ flanker Joe Worsley is unavailable due to injury.