James Haskell on England's brutal WhatsApp realities when you miss the England squad
- House of Rugby, Together with GUINNESS -
It's absolutely ruthless
In professional rugby, as the international games draw close, players are keeping an eye on their emails to let them know if they have made the squad. It is the phone call that they don't want. Phone calls from the coaching staff usually mean bad news.
The squad WhatsApp group is another indicator or whether you have made the cut, and James Haskell knows all about it.
Haskell helped England to Six Nations titles in 2016 [a Grand Slam] and 2017 but has missed out on the November squad and will, instead, focus on getting out and doing the business on the park for Northampton Saints.
Haskell joined host Alex Payne and former England star Mike Tindall on House of Rugby - JOE's rugby show. The trio looked ahead to this weekend's November internationals, which includes England taking on South Africa, Scotland v Wales and Ireland's clash with Italy in Chicago.
Asked about England's warm-weather training camp in Portugal, Haskell replied, "There is no such thing as light-touch [training], ever.
"I haven't had too much feedback with the lads. I kind of let them get on with it.
"Yeah, they throw you straight out of the WhatsApp group. Oh, it is unbelievable.
"Literally; honestly, as soon as you are named back in [the squad]. it's like, 'Welcome back. How is everyone?'
"And then as soon as you are not picked it's like boom, done. Dust!
"Normally the security [England squad members] were running that and you were dusted. And you get a text going, 'Nothing personal but you're not in'. It's absolutely ruthless."
Life, rugby and WhatsApp group have a habit of moving relentlessly on.
Looking ahead to England's autumn internationals, Tindall has set a 'minimum requirement' of three wins from four if this Test window is to be deemed a success.
"I know they're hit by injuries," Tindall added, "but they've had success against Australia and they need to continue that... The way they finished off against South Africa - and the rugby they played in those three games - shows they were back to playing with an attacking intent.
"They need to continue with that, and shore up their defence. They're at home so they have to be winning and putting in a good performance against New Zealand."
Asked by Payne if England are currently set up to do just that, Tindall responded, "Em, no. Probably not.
"I still believe that the players are good enough but it's just whether they can go back to playing that rugby where they actually threaten people... I want to see quick-tap penalties and England lifting the pace of the game, which got them the success."
Watch the third episode of JOE's House of Rugby podcast, Together with GUINNESS...