Haskell: Changes will turn Wasps around

PA Sport
James Haskell says he has returned to Wasps after changes in the way the club is run
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James Haskell says he has returned to Wasps after changes in the way the club is run

James Haskell has revealed he only agreed to return to Wasps after being convinced the club's management had modernised and were ready to challenge with the elite once again.

Haskell was part of a mass exodus of international stars when he left Wasps for Stade Francais three years ago, as the club's old values began to prove out-dated. Wasps almost prided themselves on paying low wages and training in basic facilities, knowing that in return they offered players success at club level and international recognition.

"I was always a fan of Wasps when I was a child," Haskell said. "I always wanted to come back here. Some decisions were made that changes had to come in. They realised things needed to change and perhaps the way the club had been managed wasn't the right way."

Under Warren Gatland and then Ian McGeechan, Wasps grew to become giants of the European game - but their star has faded in recent years.

Haskell, Tom Palmer, Danny Cipriani and Paul Sackey all left to take up lucrative contracts elsewhere while Josh Lewsey retired out of sheer frustration at the direction Wasps were heading.

Last season, Wasps were weeks away from going into administration and they only avoided relegation from the Aviva Premiership on the last day of the campaign. But owner Steve Hayes is selling to a former Wasps player Ken Moss, and Haskell believes the club's new vision will see them challenging for honours again.

Haskell went on: "To be competitive you have to pay players the money, you have to invest in facilities, you can't do things on the cheap because you get left behind. With the new owners, hopefully, and with Dai (Young, director of rugby), Wasps will slowly but surely get back to where it deserves to be, and that is at the top of the table."

Haskell and Palmer have both returned to the club this summer as part of a strong recruitment programme, which has also included the signings of Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones, Italian centre Andrea Masi and South African number eight Ashley Johnson.

Wasps already have a core of exciting young players coming through, with the likes of Joe Launchbury, Christian Wade and Elliot Daly close to breaking into the England squad.

Haskell set his sights on becoming a regular in the England squad once again after opting to miss the 2012 RBS 6 Nations to play a season in Japan. The versatile back row player did return to the side for England's drawn third Test against South Africa in the summer but he has slipped down Stuart Lancaster's pecking order.

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