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O'Shea tips Easter for England role

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea insists Nick Easter could yet play a role in England's 2015 World Cup campaign.

Easter celebrated his 250th appearance for the London club with a man of the match performance in Saturday's 32-12 Aviva Premiership victory over Leicester at Twickenham Stoop.

The 36-year-old won the last of his 47 caps at the 2011 World Cup but has been championed by Lawrence Dallaglio, who believes he should be recalled against Wales on February 6 as Ben Morgan is set to miss the RBS 6 Nations opener with an ankle injury.

O'Shea added his voice to the chorus of approval after watching Easter play a role in three of Quins' four tries, including an outstanding off-load to set up Danny Care.

"I've stopped speaking to (England head coach) Stuart Lancaster about Nick because I'm banging..... Nick wants to play for England," said O'Shea, who confirmed Easter has signed a two-year contract extension.

"Look at that performance against Leicester and think about the Leinster games when he played against Jamie Heaslip.

"I know Stuart and we had a good, long chat about it last year. Stuart's worry has always been will he get to the World Cup with the ability to play at that intensity and pace?

"If he gets to the end of the season and he's still playing like that, England might take a look at him. No doubt in a few months' time he will more than ready.

"I've been very fortunate to have Nick at the club while I've been here. He's a warrior, a rugby player, and while he may be old school in some ways - he challenges - he plays rugby.

"He plays at a level very few people can - that offload wasn't just world class, it was out of this world. He tries things and never goes into his shell. The harder the going gets and the more we're under pressure, the better he plays.

"I said to him four years ago I'd stop playing him every week, but I can't stop playing him every week.

Care, flanker Jack Clifford, wing Marland Yarde and replacement Tim Swiel also crossed as Quins climbed to seventh with a bonus-point victory that leaves them only two points adrift of the top four.

"We played with ambition and we knew that this game was pretty important. We're right back in the mix and when we play like that, we're a tough team to play against," O'Shea said.

"We have a mountain to climb, but we're coming. We needed a win like this to get us buzzing. We needed that win more than Leicester."

Four penalties from fly-half Owen Williams accounted for Leicester's score and director of rugby Richard Cockerill has no complaint with the result.

"We didn't finish our opportunities and in the end we got what we deserved. It's disappointing because we got nothing out of the game and conceded four tries," Cockerill said.


From Belfast Telegraph