England star Haskell reveals 'next chapter'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: After falling out of favour with England over the course of the last couple of seasons, James Haskell announced his retirement from professional rugby back in May at the age of 34.
The backrow won 77 caps for his country as well as touring New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in 2017. Unfortunately for Haskell, injuries began to dog him later in his career, particularly in his one-year stint at Northampton Saints, which is when he ultimately decided to call time on his career.
“This next chapter was supposed to go a very different way, however that is the nature of professional sport. I have 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.”
Haskell’s career in professional sport is not over, however, as the former Wasps man has agreed to join Bellator, an American MMA promotion, where he will compete in the heavyweight division.
Haskell has always been active outside of rugby, whether that was through business ventures or media appearances, and now he will be able to try his hand at something completely different.
The former rugby star has trained at London Shootfighters previously, as well as working as an MMA pundit for BT Sport. Bellator have announced that there will be a press conference in London to introduce Haskell as part of the promotion’s stable of fighters.
Haskell previously represented Wasps, Stade Francais, Ricoh Black Rams and the Highlanders, enjoying a rugby career that spanned four countries and three continents before hanging up his boots with Northampton.