Easter slams reliance on foreign-born players
January 6, 2013
Nick Easter still has hopes of adding to his 47 England caps © PA Photos
England squad members born overseas:
Harlequins No.8 Nick Easter has launched a scathing attack on England's policy of selecting foreign-born players - labelling it as an "insult" to English rugby.
Easter has won 47 caps for his country but the 34-year-old hasn't been part of the international set-up since England crashed out of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. With one eye on the next World Cup, head coach Stuart Lancaster has put his faith in Gloucester's Ben Morgan and Leicester's Thomas Waldrom.
Waldrom's rapid elevation appears to have particularly riled Easter with the New Zealander fast-tracked into the England set-up as soon as it was discovered he qualified through an English grandmother.
"I have no problem with the likes of Manu Tuilagi and Dylan Hartley (born in Samoa and New Zealand respectively), who were educated here and learnt their rugby here, but it is a little bit harder in the case of somebody who was born, educated and learnt their rugby somewhere else," Easter told The Sunday Times in reference to Waldrom although South African-born centre Brad Barritt is another in the current squad to have been recruited having started his rugby education overseas.
Easter, who has arguably improved since being cast into the international wilderness, is adamant England have got it wrong by adopting such a recruitment policy. "There's no reason why England should be getting players in this way with the population of players we've got. It's a bit of an insult to our rugby. How come we're not developing our own players? I know the All Blacks did it with Pacific Islanders in the 70s and 80s but if it was left to me, I wouldn't take a player from another country that is available only because he didn't make it in his own country."
Lancaster names his latest England and England Saxons' squads this Wednesday, but Easter does not expect his name to be on either list despite his good form being a major factor in Harlequins' push for domestic and European honours this season. He will be 37 when the rest of the world descends on England in 2015 and as a result a third World Cup appears highly unlikely but he remains hungry for international honours in the near future.
"I have a degree of realism about this. I am not expecting to be ... well, it would be a bigger surprise to me to be in the squad than not be in it, but I want to get back in," Easter said. "I have unfinished business with England, especially because of the way it ended. I am as passionate about wearing that white shirt as I was when I made my England debut, probably more so.
"I know I can do the job. I can compare myself with the other contenders, my England rivals. They play in the Premiership, you're playing against them regularly and while I accept there will be a time when I'm not capable of playing for England that time hasn't yet arrived. I agree with a lot of what Stuart has done. After 2003 they didn't take the opportunity to bring people through. After 2011, the squad needed to be freshened up. But on the other hand, you have to pick your best players."
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