English forward James Haskell has bemoaned the loss of characters in rugby, and says the sport is "losing some of its soul".

In a Telegraph interview as part of media rounds for the release of his book Perfect Fit, Haskell said social media was creating "false idols".

The 32-year-old Haskell has played 75 tests for England and was on the Lions tour of New Zealand last year. He said rugby had become "game, after game, after game, after game".

"When I first came through at Wasps as a teenager I looked around that changing room and I saw Lawrence Dallaglio, Simon Shaw, Mark Denney, Alex King, Fraser Waters, Trevor Leota - all big characters," he said.


"I look at the New Zealand team that won back-to-back World Cups - Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu, Dan Carter.The same.

"But objectively it has changed, and that makes me a little bit sad.

"Everyone is being picked up at the age of 14 now, and everything is sensitised. It's all: 'Don't say this, can't say that, don't go off brand, wear this, promote that'. In rugby I think it is good to have a bit of a persona, a bit of a character because we are one of the last things that isn't necessarily controlled."

Haskell has revealed he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which he says has actually helped his rugby career and life, although it creates a few challenges for his TV presenter girlfriend Chloe Madeley.

He is a big user of social media, and extremely wary of it.

Haskell said: "I think social media and the camera phone are going to be the end of this world in some form. If you are commercially minded and use it as a positive tool it is a good thing to do, but it has spawned negativity and given freedom to people who shouldn't be allowed (on it).

"I believe social media is a privilege, not a right, and I run mine with an iron fist. If I don't find you funny, if I find you rude, I block you. It's a great tool if used the right way but if I didn't have a business I wouldn't be on it."

Haskell has been released by Wasps and is desperate to find a top club to play for as he chases a World Cup triumph with England, under Eddie Jones.

"It is a shame Eddie wasn't around sooner because I might have lifted more silverware," says Haskell, whose career includes a dozen games for the Highlanders in 2012/13.

"What he is doing and the way he is doing it is unique in my rugby career and in my England career.

"There was a lot of wasted time (before he arrived). Not through anyone's fault but not getting results, not being disciplined, not getting the right combinations. Caps are great – but you'd rather win everything."

Meanwhile Madeley, a fitness fanatic, has told The Sun that Haskell is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and has "secretly" written a novel.