Harlequins’ most professionally capped player Nick Easter has announced he has retired from the game.
Easter, who made 281 appearances across 20,627 minutes of rugby for the London club, was confirmed as a coach player, in charge of defence, in April this year but he will take on this role full-time now following the conclusion of his playing career.
Confirming the news, the 37 year-old club stalwart said: “After accepting the opportunity of being a coach-player by John Kingston, I took some time to think about my career. I realised that whether I’m playing or coaching, there was no possible way that I would be able to give 100 per cent to both of my roles at the same time.
“I thought, why not grab the opportunity of becoming a coach with both hands, give it my best shot and feel privileged to be in a position to go out on my own terms after 12 great years as a player for Harlequins.
“I’m a few weeks into my role now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Having had five weeks in the off-season to finalise it and four weeks now as a coach, I don’t regret my decision and I can’t wait for the new season to begin.”
Joining Harlequins from Orrell in 2004, he made his senior club debut against Worcester Warriors. Returning to National One after Harlequins were relegated in 2005, he scored an impressive 21 tries in that season to ensure the club returned to the English top flight.
In 2007 he was awarded the first of his 54 England caps, against Italy during the Six Nations. It was during his fourth Test match that he scored a record four tries, against Wales in the 62-5 victory at Twickenham Stadium.
His performances throughout 2007 earned him a place in Brian Ashton’s Rugby World Cup squad, where Easter helped England reach the World Cup final in Paris. Four years later he lifted the RBS Six Nations trophy in Dublin, England’s first Six Nations title in eight years.
Helping Harlequins to the Amlin Challenge Cup final victory in 2011, he returned to the club following that year’s World Cup and played a huge role in helping Harlequins to its first Premiership title, in May 2012.
At the end of the 2014 season he became Harlequins’ most capped professional player, overtaking Ceri Jones’ record of 233.
In 2015, after a four year absence from the international scene, he was called into Stuart Lancaster’s squad for the Six Nations and became England’s oldest try scorer in the victory over Italy.
He was then re-called into England’s World Cup squad as an injury replacement for Billy Vunipola and was named man of the match after scoring three tries against Uruguay in England’s final Pool game; in the process he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in Test rugby history.
The former number 8 has had a sterling career and the club is privileged to be able to continue to rely on his expert rugby brain. One of a number of true club men at Harlequins, and four time player of the season, his leadership and tireless work rate has made him a valuable asset and role model at the club.
Director of Rugby John Kingston added: “Nick has been an unbelievable servant to the Harlequins team for over a decade.
“He has been at the very heartbeat of all the successes the side has achieved over this period.
“Nick has a fantastic rugby brain and it is for this reason I offered him the opportunity to join the new look coaching team at the club. Both Nick and I have agreed it is in the best interests of Quins that he focuses on his coaching exclusively from now.
“While a Quins team without Nick at the helm may seem strange at first, his influence on the group will, if anything, be even greater in his new role as 1st XV Defence Coach.”
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