News in Brief
Easterby takes up Scarlets coaching role
Simon Easterby has taken up a player-coach role with the Scarlets
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- Veteran flanker Simon Easterby has taken up a player-coach role with the Scarlets following the departure of forwards coach Paul Moriarty.
Easterby, who is Ireland's most capped flanker, has played for Llanelli and the Scarlets since 1999 and captained the side for five seasons before taking up the offer to work specifically on skills at the contact area and in improving the Scarlets' lineout.
"This is something I've been thinking about for a while," he said. "It's an opportunity that I'm delighted to have been given and I'm really looking forward to it particularly with the group of new players we have joining us with such a promising group of younger talent coming to the fore.
"Obviously, I have been looking at options as I start the adjustment of moving on from my playing career. Working as a coach will be a great new challenge for me and one that I am going to relish."
- South Africa fullback Zane Kirchner will miss the start of the Tri-Nations after fracturing his cheekbone while playing for the Blue Bulls against the Golden Lions in their opening Currie Cup fixture. Kirchner made his debut against the British & Irish Lions in the third Test at Ellis Park, but will undergo surgery and miss at least four weeks of rugby.
- Former New Zealand skipper Sean Fitzpatrick has called for the British & Irish Lions to be afforded more preparation time in order to ensure their competitiveness. Fitzpatrick led the All Blacks against the 1993 Lions, and believes that the concept has huge value to the sport.
"The Lions are probably the most powerful brand in world rugby. Without question they have a future," said Fitzpatrick. "Winning that third Test against South Africa was paramount but even had they lost they'd still be a viable brand. You ask anyone who has played against the Lions and they'll tell you they're one of the greatest teams to play against.
"They play sides that are together year-in year-out while they come together every four years, so maybe they need to look at their preparation going into a tour. I'd have thought six games before the first Test would be enough. They say they need more, so give them more matches to make them more competitive. But look at that series just gone - they should have won it and could have won it 3-0. Even if you just look at them in terms of being a money-making brand, they're phenomenal."
- Saracens skipper Steve Borthwick is relishing the
opportunity to play at Wembley when his side take on Northampton at the home of English football on September 12. Sarries will become that latest club side to attempt a big day out for their fans, hoping to repeat the success of Harlequins' Christmas fixture with Leicester at Twickenham last season.
"I've only been to Wembley once and that was to watch Preston North End in the football championship play-off final, but I never thought I would get the chance to play on the pitch," said Bortwick. "It's going to be a real privilege to play their and it will be an amazing day."