O'Shea: Easter still England's best No.8
February 11, 2012
Harlequins No.8 Nick Easter drives forward during the game at the Stoop © Getty Images
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea labelled Nick Easter as the best No.8 in the Aviva Premiership after Saturday's 30-23 defeat of London Irish at the Stoop.
Easter was left out of England's Six Nations training squad and O'Shea remains baffled by the 33-year-old back-row's exclusion.
"I thought Nick Easter was absolutely incredible," the former Ireland international said after Quins' victory over the Exiles. "Did England get rid of him too quickly? Yes. Is he finished? No he is not, he is the best No.8 in the country.
"He is an outstanding player who started late in professional rugby and he will go on late. You need players like him, he's a bit old school but he's bloody talented and hard.
"We're getting back to form but I think we still had a few more gears left in us. We looked a very threatening side today though and deservedly won.
"We knew today was going to be a big day, and to take all the men unavailable out and step up and play like that was good."
However, Quins made a terrible start when Tom Homer scored a try for Irish inside the opening moments, and the fullback then went on to boot the visitors into a 13-10 half-time lead.
Tom Williams, who helped created Tom Casson's first-half try, then scored straight after the break for Quins before having a helping hand in the third try for Ross Chisholm.
Jonathan Joseph went over for the Exiles in the second half but head coach Toby Booth admitted the negatives outweighed the positives.
"We're obviously bitterly disappointed because I thought we were really good for the effort and a couple of key moments have really cost us dearly," he said,.
"People in the changing room are a little bit flat because we were good for it, the endeavour was good, the effort was good but you're playing against the team that is top of the table so it is going to be hard and you have to take your chances.
"They had two chances and took them both, which is credit to them but that is sometimes the cruel master that is professional sport.
"There is no limit to how good Jonathan Joseph and be. I have said before that in my 10 years at Irish he is one of the most talented players I have worked with."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal