Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lancaster Reveals That Easter Talked Himself into a Test Recall

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lancaster Reveals That Easter Talked Himself into a Test Recall

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

STUART LANCASTER today revealed a face-to-face talk with Nick Easter convinced him to recall the No8 to England's Six Nations squad after a four-year exile.

Easter was one of the players ditched from the squad when Lancaster took over in the wake of the disastrous World Cup campaign in 2011, when the 36-year-old allegedly responded to the quarter-final loss to France by joking, "that's PS30,000 down the toilet".

The Harlequins forward has always insisted that was taken out of context but appeared to pay the price for being part of a squad that failed to live up to the standards which Lancaster wanted from his England players.

Now, having proved his worth on the pitch for Quins, Easter has won over Lancaster off it. The head coach said: "Nick has not been involved with me but we need a specialist No8 and he has been outstanding and deserves his opportunity to prove he can replicate that at Test level. We have always kept an eye on Nick and have spoken to team-mates and the club and I met him one to one and had a good chat."

Easter comes in to the squad for Ben Morgan, who has broken his leg, but faces a battle to add to his 47 caps as Saracens' Billy Vunipola is favourite to wear the No8 jersey against Wales in England's Six Nations opener on February 6. Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani was recalled after missing the autumn series but also faces a battle to regain a starting place. George Ford and Owen Farrell are favourites to fill the No10 berths in the match-day squad in Cardiff and there is also competition from Northampton's Stephen Myler but Lancaster insisted nothing is certain.

"There is a pecking order established in the autumn," he said. "All things are open and Steve and Danny can prove they are No1 and there is plenty to play for. We brought Danny into the first Test match squad in New Zealand last summer and he is only 27 and I see him being around for two, three or four years.

"It will not come down to what has happened in the past, it's what they are doing every week."

The 34-strong squad could be increased after this weekend's final round of European pool matches, highlighting Lancaster's selection headache as injury has ruled out Morgan, Courtney Lawes, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Foden and Joe Launchbury. …

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