James Haskell announces retirement from rugby
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 07/05/19 2:59pm
England and Northampton flanker James Haskell has announced he will retire from all forms of rugby at the end of the season.
With Northampton's last game of the current campaign against Exeter at Sandy Park on May 18, this month will be Haskell's last as a professional rugby player.
The 34-year-old represented England 77 times since making his debut against Wales during the 2007 Six Nations, and went to two World Cups as well as touring New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in 2017.
Haskell joined Saints on a one-year contract at the end of last season after playing more than 200 games for Wasps over the course of two spells that sandwiched stints in New Zealand, France and Japan.
The flanker said at the time of signing with Saints that he had ambitions to go to the 2019 World Cup in Japan, but recurring ankle and toe problems have restricted his appearances for Chris Boyd's side, and he has now decided to walk away from the game.
"I have loved every minute of my career in rugby and feel very privileged to have played with and against some exceptional players," Haskell said.
I would not have achieved what I have in this sport without the continued support of my amazing wife, my family, and my friends. To them all, I am incredibly grateful.
"There are so many people to thank, but in particular I would like to express my appreciation for all the coaches, trainers and physios who I have worked with throughout my career - from Maidenhead minis all the way up to England and the British and Irish Lions, I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
"I also want to thank all my team-mates over the years for putting up with me and giving me an adventure that allowed me to laugh every single day.
"My thanks go out to the supporters here at Northampton Saints too who have welcomed me with open arms; I wish I'd been able to offer more on the field this season.
"This next chapter was supposed to go a very different way, however that is the nature of professional sport. I've never spent so much time injured in my entire career, but I'm doing everything I can to help the squad here until my contract ends.
"Retiring is obviously a really difficult decision for me to make; professional rugby has been the centre of my life for such a long time now and while it's weird to imagine living without it, I look to the future with huge excitement.
"I look back at my career and have been very lucky to have done most things there are to do in rugby. Sadly, I will never know what it's like to win a World Cup or represent the Barbarians.
"Finally, I would not have achieved what I have in this sport without the continued support of my amazing wife, my family, and my friends. To them all, I am incredibly grateful."
Haskell played 15 Tests under current England coach Eddie Jones, and was player of the series in a 3-0 whitewash of the Wallabies in June 2016.
The Australian paid tribute to a player he called one of rugby's "great characters".
"When I look back at my time coaching James, it will always bring a smile to my face," Jones said.
"It was a privilege to coach him, but also great fun. He's what I'd describe as a 'glue' player - someone who always tries to bring a squad together.
"His tour to Australia in 2016 sticks in my mind. He was absolutely outstanding on that tour, amazingly physical, uncompromising and just totally dominant.
"Despite injuries preventing him from achieving his goals this season, he should be remembered for a great career and as someone who never gave less than 100 per cent for club and country.
"Not only a superb player, but also one of the game's great characters; rugby will be poorer without the 'old fella'."