On Friday night Harlequins halted their recent losing streak with a 35 – 28 victory over Bath Rugby. Both Bath and Harlequins like to throw the ball around and are two teams that work best when the game is being played at a high tempo and Friday night’s match showcased this.
At the heart of the home side’s endeavour was 37-year-old Nick Easter, the oldest man on the field and one a Harlequins’ stalwart. For eighty minutes the Number 8 set the work rate for others to follow and he delivered 5 turnovers, the most that any player has made in a Premiership game this season.
Individuals that have watched Nick deliver his 272 appearances for Harlequins or that have followed his career on the International stage wouldn’t have been surprised that he was England’s go-to man at the end of the Rugby World Cup. His years of experience count for so much and the fact that he can still mix it with the best of them in the Aviva Premiership earned his place in that squad. What Eddie Jones thinks of him we’ll never know as Nick told Ugo Monye on BT Sport that when the Australian called him up he went straight on the front foot;
“He rung me and I didn’t give him a chance to say you’re not in! I just said, ‘Look mate I’ve had a great run with England, enjoyed my time and put us back to where we should be. You’ve got a fantastic group of players.’ To that he said, ‘Thank you very much mate’ and that was it.”
Although Nick Easter’s time at test level has now passed he remains a fundamental cog in the Harlequins wheel and the importance of his presence cannot be underestimated. The club has a burning desire to win silverware this year and if they do so then they’ll be indebted to the work that their experienced forward has put in over the course of the season, especially during this RBS 6 Nations period.
Often there’s the belief that to play at a professional level you have to have hit the heights in your late teens or early twenties in order to have a successful run at it. However Nick is proof that this doesn’t always have to be the case as the Harlequin didn’t start playing at the top level until he was 24. Nick actually credits starting later on in life and having let his body develop naturally as reasons why he has enjoyed such longevity.
Alongside the demands of a professional contract an important part of Nick’s week is his evenings coaching at Wimbledon RFC. With 54 International test caps and a no nonsense approach to rugby Nick is the perfect individual to go into coaching. It is something that he is loving and by plying his trade now he is establishing the tools required to transition into top flight later on. Indeed Rob Baxter recently said that his time captaining the Exeter Chiefs helped him progress into coaching for at that point in time the captain of a club side had a much greater hand in selection and other aspects of leadership.
Back to the here and now Harlequins’ victory over Bath was an important one as it pushed them back up to sixth place. Without Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Tim Visser and Mike Brown Harlequins have found the RBS Six Nations period to be an unforgiving time. It has seen them lose their foothold in the upper echelons of the table and be counting down the days until its over. That said whenever Nick Easter has been on the field he has been the man driving them forwards and leading by example. At the grand old age of 37 the forward continues to top the statistics charts and show the young guns how it’s done and you get the feeling that that’s something he’ll continue to do until the day that he chooses to hang up his boots.
By Emma Thurston
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