Simon Easterby has been released from his role as head coach of the Scarlets to take up the post of forwards coach for the Irish national team, it was announced today.
Easterby won 65 caps for Ireland between 2000 and 2008, becoming the country’s most-capped back-row player at the time. He toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2005, winning two caps, and coaching the national side is said to be one of his biggest career ambitions.
The former Leeds Carnegie player joined the Scarlets in 1999, where he became a club legend in making 196 appearance for the region, and captaining the side for five consecutive seasons. After retiring in 2010 he immediately took up a role as assistant coach of the region, before graduating into the top role in 2012.
Easterby described the decision as ’emotional’, and said he was hugely grateful to the Scarlets’ management for allowing him to leave the club ahead of the end of his contract. He will remain with the region through pre-season and the beginning of the Guinness PRO12 season.
“I am very grateful to the Scarlets Board for allowing this to happen and for respecting and supporting my ambition and development as a coach at international level,” Easterby said. “It’s a huge opportunity for me in Ireland and one I am very excited about, but it’s been a very emotional decision to leave the Region that has been such a major part of my rugby career.
“What makes it easier is the knowledge that we have a strong coaching structure in place and a very balanced playing squad that has not changed dramatically over the summer. We’ve worked hard to make good quality signings that will further strengthen our squad and I believe Scarlets Rugby will go forward very positively next season.”
He added: “I am grateful to everyone that has helped me throughout my Scarlets career. My particular thanks go to all the players in the squad for their hard work and commitment, the backroom staff who have been a pleasure to work alongside over the past couple of years and all our supporters who continue to show great passion and loyalty to all that rugby stands for in West Wales.”