EMOTIONAL TIES: James Haskell reveals the little things that mean the most to him

From dinky diggers to emotional homecomings, rugby player James Haskell reveals the little things that mean the most to him. 

Gareth Iwan Jones
Gareth Iwan Jones

At 16 I threw myself into rugby and it became a dream to play for England. Your first shirt takes a long time to win, and for me to make my debut against Wales in the last game of the Six Nations at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium when I was 21 was massive.

Gareth Iwan Jones

This moment at Gatwick in July 2017 signifies the importance of having an amazing partner. I had been in New Zealand for eight weeks – it was the longest Chloe [Madeley] and I had been apart. We married last December in a village church in Berkshire.

Gareth Iwan Jones

When I was 14, I needed help to get over the disappointment of not being selected for the England under 16s rugby team. A friend who was a personal trainer took me to the gym and I discovered a love of weights. We have a gym in our garage.

Gareth Iwan Jones

I am a real coffee snob. I love this Sage Dual Boiler coffee maker – there’s an art to grinding the beans and making sure the temperature is right. It drives Chloe mad and she says that it takes me an hour to make a cup of coffee.

Gareth Iwan Jones

This bottle of Cristal champagne was an engagement present. I proposed last March in the Jardins Des Tuileries, Paris. I went down on one knee and Chloe was speechless for a while – I had to say, ‘Do you mind if I get up?’ because the ground was digging in.

Gareth Iwan Jones

I discovered music aged 17 when a sports psychologist used it to improve my performance – it puts you in the right mindset. I did a DJ course and my first gig was at Ministry of Sound in 2015. I have my decks set up in the conservatory.

Gareth Iwan Jones

Being a Lion is the pinnacle of every rugby player’s career. I had missed out on two tours and thought my ship had sailed, but I was part of the British and Irish Lions Tour in 2017. The cap lives in my office at home where I run my health and fitness business.

Gareth Iwan Jones

I’ve been obsessed with diggers since I was a baby. My grandma used to tell me a bedtime story about a JCB and I was the driver. I now have a model on my desk [above] and a full-size 4CX, loaned to me by JCB. I do digging work for neighbours and team mates.

James’s new book, Cooking for Fitness: Eat Smart, Train Better, written with Omar Meziane, is published by James Haskell Health & Fitness, price £19.95. To order a copy for £15.96 until 17 February, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640; P&P is free on orders over £1. 

Interview by Victoria Woodhall