When you pass your 30th birthday, as a professional rugby player it marks the twilight of your career especially on the international stage.
Nick Easter is 36 years old and is as fit as a fiddle. Easter has always been an intelligent rugby player added to that he has a wealth of experience. A man that has been there before yet he is showing a great hunger for a Test call up.
Ben Morgan who played so well in the Autumn has broken his leg and won’t be available for the start of the 6 Nations. Morgan demonstrated that it’s more beneficial to the team to have an all-round game and possess an overall understanding of the game than just being a fantastic ball carrier.
This leaves a hole in the England squad and the perfect fit for that hole is Nick Easter.
Stuart Lancaster has never selected Nick Easter, in his tenure as coach of England. Easter having won his 47 caps for England previous to Lancaster becoming coach of England. Since 2011 until now Lancaster probably quite sensibly doubted if Easter if selected would have made it to the 2015 RWC. So picking a younger player and giving him time to develop was the correct thing to do at the time.
Circumstances have now changed and the thinking behind selection is different too. In the year of the World Cup when you select a player it could be for the shorter term. The same question still applies, if he is selected will he make it to the World Cup? The answer is, YES!
Lancaster has been a great coach as far as constantly building toward the future. He will soon find himself involved in the World Cup where it is about the here and now. In World Cup tournaments all that ‘building for the future’ goes out the window.
Victor Matfield who is 37 years old will most likely be going to the World Cup with South Africa. Paul O’Connell who is 35 years old will most likely be going with Ireland. Both of these guys are considered key members of their respective squads.
It makes sense to play Easter in the 6 Nations, any doubts will quickly be found out as the expected quality of play in this year’s 6 Nations is very high. With all 6 Nations able to take many positives out of the Autumn internationals.