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Monday 18 December 2017

England star James Haskell praises Peter O'Mahony ahead of crunch Aviva clash

Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony has rejected French overtures to sign a new three-year deal at Munster
Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony has rejected French overtures to sign a new three-year deal at Munster
Wasps Back Row James Haskell poses for a portrait during a Wasps media session on January 20, 2015 in Acton, England

England will never again choke in a Grand Slam decider on boss Stuart Lancaster's watch, according to trainee DJ and Test back-rower James Haskell.

The Wasps loose forward cannot sit still as he recounts England's spectacularly-botched Grand Slam effort in 24-8 Dublin defeat to Ireland in March 2011.

The 29-year-old is a constant fidget and agitator for personal progress: these days you can find him shaking off his Test-match itch by scratching records in the DJ booth.

The fast-talking flanker believes England's 21-16 victory over Wales in Cardiff - a revenge mission for the record 30-3 defeat in 2013 that blew another Grand Slam - proves Lancaster's men no longer crack under pressure.

Haskell hopes England can now ease memories of that 2011 crime too, when they face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in RBS 6 Nations action on March 1.

"It was a very different place in terms of the structure with England and the coaches and where we were," said Haskell, of the 2011 vintage under then-boss Martin Johnson.

"I don't think you will ever see an occasion where something like that (Grand Slam collapse in Dublin) happens because boys are too experienced.

"The squad has moved on now.

"But with Stuart (Lancaster) coming in, we have a gameplan that is very clear and concise and it suits the players that are playing it. That is the difference."

Haskell hailed flanker Peter O'Mahony as Ireland's new "talisman", anticipating a fulsome back-row encounter.

Munster captain O'Mahony signed a new three-year Thomond Park deal this week, and Haskell expects fireworks in Dublin - but warned England not to make the loose forward battle personal.

"Peter O'Mahony has developed over the last two or three years into a real world-class player," said Haskell.

"He is a bit of a talisman for Ireland, he will raise his game.

"You don't often get a case where you dominate the back-row and lose the game, but you can't get into a one-on-one battle with it.

"If you go hunting for that you are completely out of the mix for the other things you are supposed to do."

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