Six Nations
Recalled Easter swaps Caribbean for Cardiff
Tom Hamilton at Pennyhill Park
January 28, 2015
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As little as three weeks ago, Nick Easter felt so detached from England's Six Nations plans, he booked a holiday to the Caribbean to coincide with the tournament. Now, the recalled No.8 is one of a number of players who need to demonstrate England's growing injury list can be counter-acted by an impressive strength in depth.

Owen Farrell was the latest to be ruled out of the Six Nations on Tuesday to join a further 11 players currently on the sidelines but Easter, who last played for England in 2011, is certain they can go to Cardiff on February 6 and beat Wales.

England's Nick Easter takes on the Pumas defence, England v Argentina, Rugby World Cup 2011, Otago Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, September 11, 2011
Nick Easter last played for England in 2011 © Getty Images
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"We are very confident," Easter said. "We have to go there like that. We went there four years ago and we knew what game plan we had. You have to know what the opposition are about and nullify them, but we've only had one meeting so far. There'll be more prep and you have to nail that and not go off-script."

Inevitably with injuries, one player's loss is another's gain and Easter feels England's strength in depth will be enough to cover those unavailable. "We're equipped to deal with that," Easter said. "There are a number of guys who have been blooded by Stuart in the last three years, so they're quite confident of these guys stepping up, which will have to be the case because of the injuries."

For Easter, his recall to the England camp marked a remarkable turnaround in fortunes. In the wake of the 2011 World Cup, a competition where England made more headlines off the field than on, Easter was one of the players to miss out in Stuart Lancaster's first squad. Coming in as Martin Johnson's replacement, Lancaster instigated a root-and-branch overhaul both in personnel and culture.

But there were still those of the view Easter would fit in to the new-look England. Despite being consigned to international exile, his Harlequins coach Conor O'Shea frequently called for his No.8 to be given another chance. Easter tried to keep the faith but as little as three weeks ago, he did not expect to be involved in the Six Nations to the extent he booked a holiday to the Caribbean. Such plans have now had to be cancelled. "I'd rather be here, you can go on holiday anytime you want but you can't always represent your country."

When England were last in Cardiff, Easter watched on from a corporate box as Lancaster's side crashed to a 30-3 hammering. It has been a hard experience for Easter to watch from the stands, making him all the more determined to take full advantage of this new opportunity.

"It is frustrating. Not that you can still do a job there but you really want to be there. I kept plugging away. About two months ago, I was asked if the door was shut and I said the key was turning. It turned in the other direction and it started to open up again. Thankfully I am here now and I am going to make absolutely the most of it."

Easter has not yet been in the camp long enough to determine whether he will be expect to alter his style of play at the back of the scrum but he feels happy to change to fit in with England's game plan. "I will bring in my experience. I played under various coaches and various different game plans but also my abilities as a player: I like the physical stuff and also like to read the game well."

And despite coming into the squad seemingly behind Billy Vunipola in the No.8 pecking order, Easter is not there merely to make up the numbers. "It's great to be back here, but I don't want to be holding pads, I want to be getting selection and showing what I can do on the paddock in a white shirt again."

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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