It was two years ago, as England were closing in on victory in Cardiff, that their unofficial anthem swelled around the stadium with Welsh voices having fallen silent in realisation that the citadel had been stormed.
The contrast with England’s previous visit in 2013 – when they had been humbled 30-3 in a Grand Slam shoot-out – was total.
Then the stadium had been shaking as Wales ransacked the visitors – JPR Williams said he had never seen a side capitulate so badly; this time it had been transformed into a mini-Twickenham.
For Haskell, a bit-part sub in the defeat and central cog in the victory, one experience prepared England for the other and will do again for the re-match this weekend.
“When we went there and lost the Grand Slam we were a bit wet behind the ears in terms of what to expect. Last time we understood that. There were guys who had had that experience before and we have that in the squad now ready to kick on,” he said.
James Haskell was part of the England side that beat Wales in 2015
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“It is about not being distracted by the side-show that goes with it; it is about not being distracted by the crowd and the noise. You have to go there, deliver your job and then leave.
“Everyone wants to beat England, everyone is always hostile and the Principality Stadium is up there – the Welsh are passionate fans – but as a player it is a motivator. That is why we go through hell and get beaten up to play in massive games like these.
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“I will never forget hearing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot across the stadium two years ago. That is something you might never get again but hopefully we will this weekend coming.”
Haskell, as England’s senior statesman at 31, addressed the squad yesterday on the perils on playing Wales in Wales.
Historically, as Eddie Jones has been at pains to point out, it is England’s least productive fixture in the Six Nations, even if they have won on two of their last three visits to Cardiff.
James Haskell has urged England to take the fight to Wales
“It is important to understand Wales will come at us a very fired-up side and that we need to match that passion but to play our own game,” said Haskell.
“We need to deal with the game in little sections and if anything goes right, realise why it is going right and keep doing it. If something goes wrong, we need to adjust on the spot. That is what England sides have done there when we have won.”
Haskell, despite a potent cameo against France, will be introduced in the second half from the bench as he eases his way back following a six-month lay-off with a toe injury.
“It’s really important we bring him on in a graduated way.” said Jones yesterday. “He had a serious injury and has played three two-thirds of a club game and 20 minutes of Test rugby. It is important we keep building him up and he might be ready by the end of the tournament to start starting games.”
The reception Haskell received at Twickenham on Saturday when he came on underlined his late-career cult hero status among England’s fans, one cemented by the tackle which wiped out David Pocock in the Second Test in Australia in the summer.
England battled their way past France on Saturday
“I’m not a great watcher of rugby, full stop and I was champing at the bit to get on but I didn’t want to get on too early as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to last the course,” said Haskell.
“There was a long period of time where I thought I was never going to pull on a shirt, let alone get the chance to play for England again so it was amazing to get the opportunity to come back in and play a small part in the result.”
And so on to Wales and a repeat, he hopes, of last time – well, not an exact repeat. Haskell’s night of joy was mixed with embarrassment after an attempt to score a try ended with him bouncing off a post.
“I wasn’t left with much option between Halfpenny and Cuthbert, two great defenders, and I thought I would do the old hit and spin. Unfortunately my radar was a bit off,” he recalled.
“These things happen, you know. It has made a great highlight real and comedy so at least I have brought that to the world.”