Nick Easter may have ended his playing career over the summer but Harlequins back-rower Jack Clifford claims the former England man is still having an impact at the Twickenham Stoop in his new role, writes Jack Miller.
Easter retired from playing at the age of 37, having won 54 England caps, but has remained at Quins as defence coach.
And Clifford – who made his own England debut against Scotland earlier this year – says that having the legendary back-rower around is incredibly useful for his own development.
“We’ve got great guys, new coaches, new players in as well, and it is fantastic environment to learn,” explained Clifford, speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva Community Fund alongside team-mates Danny Care and Marland Yarde.
“John Kingston now being the DoR and Nick Easter coming in as defence coach is massive for the club.
“I used to use Nick as someone to learn off when he was a player anyway, and now he is a coach it is a perfect situation, not just for me but for the whole club.
“He’s been around and done his time, played a lot of international rugby, and having him still involved will really benefit us as a team.”
The Aviva Community Fund is a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to local communities by offering support and funding for inspirational local causes.
The ACF has already benefited over 320,000 people, through 431 winning projects across the UK, and this year, local grassroots sports clubs can apply or reapply for funding in a new, sport-specific category.
And Clifford is adamant the scheme is the perfect tool to inspire the next generation of rugby players.
“The Aviva Community Fund is awesome simply because of the fact that, when I was a youngster – which wasn’t all that long ago – going to all these rugby days when you get to see the players there is really inspiring,” he added.
“The reason you go along is because you’re a massive fan, and meeting guys that are playing for England and so on just inspires you to carry on as best you can.
“It means a lot for guys like me now to be able to go back and give something to the kids as well, and the fact that Aviva are doing do much for the grassroots level is exceptional.”
Harlequins finished seventh in Aviva Premiership Rugby last term to miss out on the European Rugby Champions Cup, but with former head coach John Kingston having taken over as director of rugby from Conor O’Shea, Clifford claims there is already a different feel at the Twickenham Stoop.
“The way John is, he is certainly bringing fresh ideas to the club and a new way of thinking,” said Clifford.
“He’s not a fresh face, but where he is taking the club is different to before and I think it will give us lots of new opportunities.
“I don’t think we’re just going to look like the same side as last year. We’ve got new players who have come in as well which helps, and younger guys coming through.
“Joe Marchant for example really is a class player who offers so much to us as a team, so we have real talent in the ranks and a good opportunity to be successful this year.”
Premiership Rugby and the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs are supporting the Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative which offers funding of up to £25,000 to grassroots sports clubs and other community organisations close to your heart. Enter at aviva.co.uk/community-fund from September 13.