We don’t have many interviews on here nowadays but when we do, they’re big ones. James Haskell plays for London Wasps and has appeared over 70 times for England. Here he talks a little about Rugby, and gives us some sterling snack recipes. If you’d like to make them vegan, and why not, I’ve put substitute ingredients in brackets.
Q: Who was your sporting role model growing up?
A: A few people, but probably Lawrence Dallagio from Wasps and Joe Worsley as well, and then globally someone like Muhammad Ali.
Q: How did you get into your sport?
A: I got into rugby at a very early age when my Mum took me down to a local rugby club, mainly to get me out of the house – I think she lied about my age; she signed me up for the U7s when I was five. My Dad discovered you could have a beer at the weekend as well at a rugby club, so it was a perfect match made in heaven.
Q: What would be your advice for something trying to excel in their sport?
A: It’s the work you do outside of your chosen training, it’s that little bit of attention to detail or trying to work on the core skills with whatever you want to do. For rugby, you can break it down into four or five things – passing, tackling, running lines, kicking, etc. So spend 10 minutes after training working on those every day and you’ll instantly be a better player.
Q: Three things you could take on a desert island?
A: My laptop, solar powered charger and my girlfriend.
Q: What’s your favourite post-workout snack?
A: My favourite post-workout snack is Meridian Peanut Butter cocoa oat balls. I make them myself, they’re champagne!
Q: How often do you train?
A: I train almost every day, every week. We train each day probably for about four or five hours.
Q: How are you finding getting back into training?
A: With my toe injury, I was out for seven months. Mentally, I compartmentalised, I just focused on doing well every day and trying to get better every day. You have a couple of steps forward and a couple of steps back, but I balanced this out with my desire to keep playing rugby and everything else I do off the field; running my fitness business, I DJ’d, I spoke at events a lot more. I really enjoyed that and it kept the balance right, so when I was ready to come back and play I was primed and ready to perform.
Q: What’s in store for you in the future?
A: Post-playing I think I’m going to end up doing media and TV work. I’d like to keep DJ’ing as well and running my fitness business. I doubt I’ll go into anything related to rugby, although I might do a bit of punditry work, but in terms of coaching stuff that might be later, later down the line.
Q: What’s next in your rugby career?
A: I’m solely focused on playing for Wasps, you know if you go well for Wasps and they go well, you’ll finish the season with silverware which is the most important thing. And, we’re coming to the end of the season where there’s a massive tour to Argentina with the England team. So those will be my focuses. If something else was to happen, with things like the Lions, that takes care of itself, but at the moment I’m back at Wasps and focused on that.
Q: Care to give us a couple of your favourite snack recipes?
A: Sure, here are a couple of easy ones.
Cocoa & Peanut Protein Balls
- 225g oats
- 85g honey (or Agave Syrup)
- 140g Meridian Cocoa & Peanut Butter
- 1 tbsp of boiling water (if needed to bring together at mixing stage)
- Pour the honey and nut butter into a small saucepan and place onto the stove top over a low heat.
- When the two have melted pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Now pour in the oats and mix together.
- Form into balls approx. 12-15 and pop into the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up and serve.
Choc Orange Porridge
- 100g Porridge Oats
- 500ml Milk (or Nut or Soy Milk, or even water)
- 2 eggs, beaten (or Flax Eggs)
- 2tbsp Meridian Cocoa hazelnut butter
- 1 orange
- 2tbsp Greek Yogurt (or Vegan Yoghurt)
- drizzle of honey (or Agave Syrup) and flax seeds to serve
- In a saucepan combine the oats, milk and eggs and bring to a simmer. Cook for 6-8 mins, stirring regularly until the oats are cooked and the porridge is thick.
- Stir in the nut butter and the zest of the orange. Add a little more milk if the porridge is too thick for your liking.
- While the porridge is cooking, slice the skin from the orange and cut into segments.
- Divide the porridge between two bowls and top with the yogurt, orange, a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of flax seeds.
Fruit But and Seed bars
- 100g self raising flour
- 300g porridge oats
- 100g mixed seeds
- 80g dried cranberries
- 80g dried cherries
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- 1 apple grated (skin included)
- 150g Meridian Cocoa peanut butter
- 150g unsalted butter (Earth Balance, or other vegan margarine)
- 100g meridian maple syrup
- Heat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/ Gas 3. Line a 20cm x 30cm baking tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, seeds nuts and berries.
- Heat the peanut butter, butter and maple syrup in a saucepan. Stir well as it melts together. Once it’s melted, remove from the heat and add the apple.
- Tip the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine well. Spoon into the baking tin and press out to the edges and corners. Use a spoon to compact the mixture.
- Cook for 20-25mins until it turns golden on top. Let it cool in the tin then cut into 16 bars and store in an airtight tin.
- These bars a rich and crumbly. Allow them to go completely cold before cutting and they will hold together better.