LONDON – England coach Eddie Jones has challenged James Haskell to win back his place in the team for their Six Nations title defence.
With Tom Curry ruled out until late March by a fractured wrist and Sam Underhill yet to play since being concussed against Australia, England's openside position is up for grabs.
Haskell was a regular in the back row during Jones' first year in charge before a toe injury and a loss of form. His last England appearance was against Ireland last March, but the 32-year-old is intent on a Test return and Jones says the Wasps star is in with a chance.
“Every game he's played for Wasps he's got a little bit better. He trained well this week, showed plenty of energy,” Jones said on Tuesday. “Sometimes the second chance is something that creates a bit of momentum in the player, so we'll wait and see how he gets on.”
A date for Underhill's return has yet to be set due to the persistent symptoms he has been suffering since being knocked out against the Wallabies.
“It's ongoing return to play for concussion. You never know - he could be right tomorrow,” Jones said. “Rugby treats these things seriously, which it should. We'll just have to wait and see.
“We've got plenty of options at seven. We have Haskell and Gary Graham, who has impressed at this camp. “We can always push Chris Robshaw across if we need to. We're not short of options.”