Test rugby no joke for the Easterbys
Hear the one about the Englishmen, playing in Wales, who've been picked by the Irish to play Scotland?
The Easterby brothers hope Saturday will be no laughing matter as they both join the Irish senior squad for the first time. And both flanker Simon and older brother scrum half Guy have acknowledged the importance of Welsh club rugby in their success. Both born in Harrogate and educated at Ampleford College they have had a varied rugby background with Simon joining Llanelli this season from Leeds. "I moved because I wanted to be part of their ambitions and playing style," he said from the Irish team's headquarters in the Wicklow Mountains. "The way Llanelli play suits me and the fact we have done well in the Heineken Cup has helped me get this far. Gareth Jenkins has been superb in helping me develop and there are a lot of quality players in the side who have helped give me this chance."
Brother Guy who has played for Harrogate and for London Scottish before their demise last season is now in the unusual position of vying for a club place at Ebbw Vale with Wales reserve scrum half Richard Smith. "Don't start talking about the possibility of us playing against each other when Ireland play Wales in April," said Guy, "It's a bit early for that yet. A lot could happen in the meantime. But the club's success has given my career the push it needed."
Both were impressive in a historic Ireland 'A' win over England on the eve of the Twickenham test and are among 10 new faces in the Ireland 22 for Saturday. Should Guy come on they will be the first set of brothers to play for Ireland since Paul and Richard Wallace lined out against England in 1998. It would also mean that Ireland will join a far from exclusive club this season, with five of the six nations fielding sets of brothers either in the World Cup or Six Nations, the exception being England.