O'Shea tips Easter for England return

PA Sport
Harlequins' Nick Easter is tackled by Leicester Tigers' Toby Flood, left, in a match where the number eight impressed
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Harlequins' Nick Easter is tackled by Leicester Tigers' Toby Flood, left, in a match where the number …

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 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."

He added: "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, 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."

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.

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill admitted his side had to improve after dropping more points following last week's draw at Saracens.

He said: "We lacked composure when we had opportunities, which is disappointing. We need to be better at taking those opportunities. There was a vital part in the second half when we had a run of line-outs which we cocked up.

"You will have to ask the head of the Elite Referee Department how many times they have to pull a maul down before you get a yellow card or a penalty try. And in the first five minutes we had a line break and they killed the ball and it's just a penalty.

"But they came and played and fair play to them. They ran hard and played well, they are a good side. I don't care who is missing though, we have to be better and more clinical."

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