Northampton Saints have announced the signing of 77-times-capped England flanker James Haskell.
Haskell, 33, has been in search for a new club after it was announced earlier this season his contract would not be renewed with Wasps. Haskell has spent 12 years at Wasps during two spells at the club and has gone on to make over 200 appearances since emerging from the Academy system.
“I’m really excited and humbled to be joining a giant of English rugby in Northampton Saints,” said Haskell.
“Having had the opportunity to play against them for many years now, I know this is a Club with a proud history and a set of passionate and loyal supporters who always make their presence felt.
“It’s no secret that I want to continue my international career for as long as possible; the only way I can do that is by putting my best foot forward in club rugby and helping Saints fight their way back into contention for silverware.
“There’s a real buzz around Franklin’s Gardens at the moment with the arrival of Chris Boyd, a new coaching team being put in place and a number of top-quality players also joining the squad. I can’t wait to get started in Black, Green and Gold.”
“We’re thrilled to have captured James’ signature for next season, as he’s a player that can bring so much to Saints,” said Northampton’s new director of rugby Boyd.
“Not only is he a superb leader with bags of experience at the very highest level, but James is clearly still extremely hungry to win trophies in club and international rugby.
“His record speaks for itself and I have no doubt that he will be an excellent fit for Northampton, both in the side and within the Club.
The news of Haskell's signing has abated worries of the Test veteran missing out on the 2019 tournament in Japan. It was made clear by the RFU that there would be no special circumstances in their selection policy and that to remain eligible, he must sign for an English side. Although, this is not to suggest Haskell's spot in the England squad is guaranteed. The former Wasps captain was left out of Eddie Jones’ England squad to tour South Africa announced last Thursday, with youngsters Tom Curry (19), Ben Earl (20) and Wasps teammate Jack Willis (21) all preferred.
Crashball Rugby understands Haskell's deal is for one season, allowing the Lions tourist to keep his options open after the World Cup.