Easter not expecting return to England squad despite successful season at Harlequins

By Chris Bailey

HARLEQUINS captain Nick Easter has no intention of handing his number 8 shirt over to new guard just yet, insisting his competitive nature drives him on to continue performing.

At 35 years of age, Easter is one of the elder statesmen in a Quins team bringing through a host of young players from its famous Stoop academy.

He has certainly showed no signs of slowing down this season though, enjoying a stellar campaign to help an injury-ravaged Quins side edge into the Aviva Premiership play-offs where they will face Saracens tomorrow.

Such performances did not go unnoticed, with two trophies at Thursday’s annual Aviva Premiership awards in London – the Gatorade Game Changer of the Season, for his display in Harlequins’ vital victory at Leicester Tigers back in November as well as the Green Flag Forward of the Season.

The former England number 8 will also enter into the club record books against Saracens, as he makes his 233 appearance to pass Ceri Jones and become the most professionally capped player, and Easter admits it is about managing his body in the best way.

“I’m just enjoying it, I understand my body and know what it takes to be able to peak, know when to go hard and when not to go hard,” he said.

“I suppose the competitive animal just comes out in me when these youngsters come along and they are earmarking your position, you think ‘actually no they’re not going to have it just yet.’

“You sometimes think ‘yeah you could wind down into the sunset and give them a smooth transition.’ But it doesn’t work like that, your competitive nature comes out and you don’t want to give it up.

“It’s always really nice to get recognition from an individual point of view in what is probably one of the greatest team sports around.

“Guys are putting their body on the line, getting beaten up every week, you are doing it for the cause. Winning is a very special feeling.

“But we are still in the mix for a bigger prize, that’s the main focus, we’ll take that over any individual award.”

Easter performances this season have led some to push his case for a recall to Stuart Lancaster’s England team for the first time since the 20011 World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.

But while his current involvement in the play-offs automatically ruled him out of contention for Lancaster’s 20-man training squad announced on Thursday, Easter does not expect to be named in the final team for the summer tour to New Zealand.

“I would dearly still love to play for England. In some ways it does keep you fresh, playing for your club and playing for England, it’s different voices, different players, different opposition,” he added.

“It would be pleasant surprise if I got called up to England put it this way, but I’m not expecting anything.

“For Quins, this is the most successful period they have had in their time and I’m enjoying being a part of it.

“I enjoy turning out for work every day and playing for the club on a Saturday.”

Photo courtesy of PierreSelim, with thanks.

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