Ireland v England, Six Nations, Lansdowne Road, March 19
Easter braced for "hardest game"
March 18, 2011
England captain Nick Easter takes to the field at Lansdowne Road on the eve of their clash with Ireland © Getty Images
England captain Nick Easter believes his side will have to produce their best ever performance if they are to complete the Six Nations Grand Slam with victory over Ireland on Saturday.
Easter will skipper his country in a Test match for only the second time at Lansdowne Road following an injury to centre Mike Tindall and is charged with steering the side to their first Championship title and clean sweep since 2003. But the Harlequins No.8 is not expecting to get an easy ride against an Irish side that is one defeat away from equalling their worst performance in the Six Nations.
"To win in Dublin, with the occasion and what is at stake, you have to bring your best game. I don't think anyone wins anything tangible not doing that," Easter said. "When the fixtures came out most people thought this would be the hardest game and I don't think we'll be disappointed.
"The Irish haven't delivered their best game in the Six Nations so far and I am sure that will come tomorrow. It should make for a good contest. Once Johnno decided to give me the honour of captain there was an enormous sense of pride but the focus is on making sure we deliver our best game tomorrow. We realise after last week's not-so-hot performance (in beating Scotland) that it was a good kick up the backside in order to make sure we do produce the goods tomorrow."
England wing Mark Cueto, who will win his 50th cap tomorrow, admitted earlier this week his international career would be incomplete if he failed to win any silverware and Easter is also painfully aware of that trophy drought.
"It has been a while. Last year we won the first two and then went off the rails," said Easter. "It is only the Six Nations tournament and World Cup where you can win silverware. I (don't see this as my last opportunity to win a Six Nations) I see it as a first opportunity. We are in this position, we have to enjoy it but certainly we have to bring our top game.
"It is going to be a pretty easy game to captain in terms of the build-up because these guys will need no motivation to get up for the game. This is a bigger Test match than most. There are some guys there who I don't think ever get nervous, the younger ones sit in the changing room chomping Haribos and having a laugh.
"You have guys like Ben Youngs and Toby Flood who have played in big finals for Leicester and they have that experience to fall back on. It is an occasion to enjoy. We have worked hard to get here. We are 4-0 now and let's hope we can make it five."
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