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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Easter demands step up in quality
By Bryn Palmer

Nick Easter
Easter has played a key role in England's steady improvement
Nick Easter insists England are not content to have reached the World Cup quarter-finals and must "step on the gas" to progress in the tournament.

The Harlequins number eight admits the pressure has eased after the win over Tonga but hopes to continue his fine form against Australia next Saturday.

He said: "We have got a big job to do and we can't take our foot off the gas, we have to press really hard now.

"So far I hope I have done a job but I hope I have a lot more to offer."

Easter's rise has been a dramatic one, given he was playing in National League One with Quins the season before last.

Whether I play next week or not, I am quite proud of what I have done so far

Nick Easter

But after impressing on their return to the Premiership, an England debut followed in the Six Nations and he scored four tries in the opening World Cup warm-up against Wales.

Having replaced Lawrence Dallaglio after their laboured opening pool win over the USA, the 29-year-old is set for the biggest game of his career in Marseille next Saturday.

"I am delighted with the way everything has gone," he told BBC Sport.

"I knew last season was a big one for me just to establish myself in Harlequins' Premiership side, especially with some of the quality back-rows Dean Richards (director of rugby) had brought in.

"But I had a good season on that front which helped me to shine and get noticed by the national selectors.

"Whether I play next week or not, I am quite proud of what I have done so far."

While Easter is in his first season of international rugby, with just nine caps to his name, Quins team-mate Andy Gomarsall is enjoying a remarkable renaissance in his 12th year on the Test scene.

The 33-year-old scrum-half has been a major factor in England's revival in the past fortnight after their trouncing by the Springboks.

"Gomers is playing very well," Easter acknowledged. "He doesn't know when he is down, does he?


"He has been kicked so many times but he brings tremendous spirit and character to the squad. He is always an upbeat individual and the last two games he has played out of his skin - especially defensively.

"He has made some good tackles and got some turnover ball, which he is not renowned for!

"But it is nice to be playing with someone I am familiar with and that 8, 9, 10 axis is very important."

Brian Ashton's side had to defend heroically against the hard-running Pacific islanders, but Dallaglio admits England will need to take their defence to another level against old rivals Australia.

Dallaglio, who came on for the last 15 minutes of the win over Tonga, said: "Defensively, we are going to have to be at our very, very best.

"We can improve in that area, I'm sure, and we need to - we are aware of that.

"It is a big fixture, but forget the team you are playing against - it is a World Cup quarter-final.

"We will need to move up and tackle hard because Australia are one of the best sides for putting people out of shape and creating space."

England 36-20 Tonga
28 Sep 07 |  English
England v Tonga as it happened
28 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union


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