After being named as Harlequins’ new defence coach for next season, veteran No.8 Nick Easter insists he is relishing the opportunity to make his mark on the sidelines.
Following the departure of Conor O’Shea to Italy, Easter was named in a new-look Harlequins set-up for next season, which will see John Kingston as director of rugby, Mark Mapletoft become head coach and Graham Rowntree join as forwards coach following eight years with England.
Easter has been developing his coaching skills with Wimbledon Rugby Club in the National pyramid for the last couple of years but the former England international feels now is the right time for a new career challenge.
"The hours are going to shoot up for sure; not in the gym – I will sub them for meetings, which I am not fussed about,” said Easter, who was speaking to promote the Aviva Tackling Numbers campaign in Surrey.
"I’ve spent enough time in gyms but the hours will go up, especially early on when I’m planning and learning, trying to get messages across, getting that clarity and making people understand what it is I want to achieve.
"I loved it at Wimbledon. I did a lot of work with the forwards and planning and taking sessions twice a week.
"But also, it’s the delivery and how you are with players that you have to learn. I’ve made cock-ups, and loads of mistakes but you’re driven to improve and often left annoyed that you did something or said something which didn’t work.
"If a drill doesn’t work then it doesn’t matter, but it’s all about communicating in the right way. You need to have that relationship with the players. They have got to trust what you’re about, trust what you’re telling them. It has been invaluable.
"My relationship with the guys will change. It has to as I’m on the other side of the fence now. I think they realise that.
"I have a strong personality and have a little bit of authority anyway. The laughing and joking in the changing room, my place in the social environment may have to change slightly but at the end of the day you’re still a human being, you are still working towards a common goal.
"I am very new to this role, so I will say to some of the senior guys ‘how do you think I’m doing?’, ‘how can I improve?’ and they will have plenty to say and I want them to be perfectly honest – which will help with the relationship."
Aviva Tackling Numbers is an innovative programme for 7-9 year olds which makes learning about numbers and financial education fun and engaging. The programme is delivered by Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs.
And Easter believes the role rugby plays at grassroots level and also in schools is a crucial developmental tool.
He said: "There is a load of talent out there which is untapped. It is a great way of channelling energy, improving people as people, teaching them to lead, allowing them to be part of a group and a team.
"You’re going to lose and win. If you lose, move on. If you win, you never get too excited. If you lose, you move on because things change.
"Those sort of lessons are vital for kids because some people get very down in life, if they don’t get a job or whatever it is. Rugby can help put things in perspective a bit. There are some very valuable life lessons in rugby."
Harlequins have progressed to the final of the European Challenge Cup after beating Grenoble last weekend but their form domestically has been a little disappointing as they missed out on a top-four finish.
Easter is well aware improvements are required on the home front next season and he admits discussions will get underway to get things back on track in Aviva Premiership Rugby in May.
"The main thing to look at is why we aren’t in the top four," added Easter. “"That is where we should be with the squad we have and, although we have no divine right, we will start planning when the season finishes in three weeks. Everyone has a common goal and we will work hard to achieve it.
"It is easy to blame our loss of form on injuries and other things. The guys that went off to the Six Nations didn’t really have an effect.
"It was mainly that we had injuries. Dickson, myself, Evans and Lowe all got injured during a key part of the season.
"Eight games on the trot without your main team, with some guys away and some injured, is very hard.
"You win your first couple and get very confident but I look to games when we did have a full squad and missed out like away to Leicester, down at Exeter, where we should have won, Gloucester where we drew.
"Games like that annoy me more because we were our own worst enemy then. All it says to me is that if we get the main things right and keep our focus then we’re looking good. But it’s about figuring out how to do that across a full season."
Nick Easter was speaking in support of Aviva Tackling Numbers. In partnership with Premiership Rugby, #AvivaTacklingNumbers helps 7-9 year olds put foundations in place for better financial skills later in life through the power of rugby. Take a maths test at aviva.co.uk/tacklingnumbers for the chance to win Aviva Premiership Rugby Final tickets.