December 6 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea predicted that Nick Easter would regain his England place after leading the Aviva Premiership champions to a hard-earned 22-9 win at Leicester.
Easter has been out of favour since the World Cup but O’Shea believes that even at the age of 34 he is the best number eight in England.
He produced a terrific performance in front of England boss Stuart Lancaster as Harlequins downed Leicester for the second time in five months, having beaten them 30-23 in May’s Premiership final at Twickenham.
O’Shea said: “To me he is the best number eight in England. I don’t care whether you are 19 or 34, if you are the best you are the best.
“For the last year he has been playing absolutely unbelievable rugby for us, and long may that continue.
“And it will because he has got the bit between his teeth. I thought he was magnificent tonight, taking the fight to them.
“I don’t want to comment on other number eights, all I know is what we see and what we have in Nick.
“He drives the group, he is incredibly ambitious and proud. He has not written off his international career.
“(New Zealand’s) Brad Thorne was older than he was playing in and winning the last World Cup. If he can keep himself in shape and plays the rugby he does, he will knock his way back in there.”
Harlequins’ win was their fourth on the trot and keeps them top of the table. Winger Tom Williams scored the only try of the match while fly-half Nick Evans kicked four penalties and a conversion and scrum-half Danny Care dropped a goal.
England fly-half Toby Flood kicked three penalties for Leicester who lacked creativity and missed injured England centre Manu Tuilagi.
Harlequins won at Leicester in the league for the first time last October but another win at a ground where Leicester had not lost for a year suggests they will take some stopping.
O’Shea said: “Any time you come to Leicester and get a win is exceptional.
“In the first half we showed we were a pretty good rugby side, in the second we showed the heart you need to be a great rugby side.
“It’s only four games in 22 and next week we play Saracens but I could not be prouder of the guys because they put the effort in and showed a willingness to play.
“We know we need to be more clinical but it’s early doors and we are happy with how we are progressing.”
Harlequins’ replacement winger Ross Chisholm was taken to hospital for an X- Ray on a fibula he injured in making a try-saving tackle on Julian Salvi, while Williams (hamstring) and Jordan Turner-Hall (AC joint) also had to go off.