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