sport

Haskell extends Wasps contract

James Haskell has signed a contract extension with Wasps and will captain the club this season.

The England international has made 132 appearances during two spells at the Aviva Premiership club, and became the youngest player to play for the first team when he made his debut in 2002 at the age of 18.

During his first seven seasons with Wasps, Haskell lifted the Heineken Cup and the Premiership. The 29-year-old then enjoyed stints in France, Japan and New Zealand before returning to Wasps in 2012.

"Wasps is so much a part of my life, having played here for nine seasons in total,\" said Haskell.

\"I have a lot to thank the club's coaches and support staff for, in helping me to get back into the England set up last season.

"I grew up supporting Wasps, which a lot of people don't realise. I have been a boyhood fan since I was 12.

\"I had the privilege of learning from icons of the game here, like Lawrence Dallaglio, Joe Worsley and Paul Volley, and it is a huge privilege to now be in a position to lead the club.

"The squad is the most competitive it has been in years, with a number of internationals arriving, as well as exciting young lads who are keen to make an impact.

"We are back at the top table of Europe after last season's win in Paris and we are benefiting from financial stability off the field. It really feels like Wasps is back and ready to achieve what we all know this team can.

"As a squad, we are under no illusion about the hard work we need to put in to continue our climb up the table.

\"The competition in modern rugby is so strong that there are no longer any easy games, but the top six remains our focus and I believe our squad has the ability and hunger to really be able to compete against the best teams in Europe.\"

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young added: "I am delighted that James has decided to extend his contract. It is an indication of the positive direction the club is moving in that players of his calibre and international experience are keen be a part of what we're working hard to build.

"I was really impressed with James' performances last year. The first season he returned to the club will have been frustrating for him as he had to carefully manage his return from a knee injury, but I thought last season he was absolutely outstanding. He was back on top of his game and performing consistently at the highest level.

"He has also demonstrated how much of a team player he is, and he is a good role model around the club and on the pitch. James shows real leadership qualities within the squad and we believe he will be an excellent captain.\"

Wasps have appointed Matt Mullan and Chris Bell as vice-captains for the coming season.