Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Would Be Mad to Drop Easter, Says So Loyal O'Shea

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Would Be Mad to Drop Easter, Says So Loyal O'Shea

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

[bar] HE answer as to how much new blood will feature in Stuart Lancaster's first England squad will be revealed tomorrow. The interim manager is understood to have already told Mike Tindall that, at 33, the World Cup-winning centre will not be part of the squad which will defend the Six Nations title.

Nick Easter, another 33-year-old, is also vulnerable. Less than 12 months ago Easter captained England during their defeat in Ireland but with Lancaster looking at younger No8s the Harlequins man may not get the chance to add to his 47 caps this season.

Naturally, Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea is happy to fight his player's corner and talks of the "outstanding" performances he has made for the Premiership leaders.

However, O'Shea's call for Easter to be in the squad is nothing to do with club loyalty but a belief that Lancaster must find a balance between youth and experience.

"With the injuries England have you would expect them to want to have some experience around the group and I am sure that is what the selectors will be looking at when they put the squad together," said O'Shea.

"Nick has been absolutely outstanding, particularly against Toulouse in what were, effectively, Test-match standard contests and Nick has massive ambition to still be involved with England and has been a stand-out player for us.

"If Nick doesn't get picked for the Six Nations then he won't be giving up.

The players at this club want to perform for Quins and England and we hope a few guys will get the call-up and Chris [Robshaw] is someone we also hope will be in the squad. If it means we have to be without key players because they are needed by England during the Six Nations then that is something we will deal with."

O'Shea is adamant that two defeats in their last three Premiership matches, to Saracens and Northampton, should not detract from the club's 14-game unbeaten start to the season that sees them still top of the English table and fighting with Toulouse for control of their Heineken Cup pool.

Quins host Gloucester in Europe's top competition on Saturday night and victory would be a huge boost for the squad and those individuals who do make the England cut. …

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