Harlequins legend Nick Easter has no intention of handing his number eight shirt over to the new guard just yet.
The 35-year-old is one of the squad’s elder statesmen, but has shown no signs of slowing down having played all but 26 minutes of the club’s top flight and European campaigns this term.
The former England number eight – named Gatorade game changer of the season and Green Flag forward of the season at the Premiership awards last week – set a new professional appearance record of 233 for the club in Saturday’s 31-17 play-off defeat to Heineken Cup finalists Saracens.
Fellow veteran Nick Kennedy, 32, called time on his playing career this week – after one season at Quins – to move in to a coaching role at London Irish, but Easter gave director of rugby Conor O’Shea a boost for next term by insisting he has no intention of following suit any time soon.
“I’m just enjoying it. I understand my body and know what it takes to be able to peak, know when to go hard and when not to go hard,” he said.
“I suppose the competitive animal just comes out in me when these youngsters come along and they are earmarking your position, you think ‘actually, no, they’re not going to have it just yet.’
“You sometimes think ‘yeah, you could wind down into the sunset and give them a smooth transition.’ “But it doesn’t work like that, your competitive nature comes out and you don’t want to give it up.
“It’s always really nice to get recognition from an individual point of view in what is probably one of the greatest team sports you can find.
“Guys are putting their body on the line, getting beaten up every week, you are doing it for the cause.”
Eleven Quins – including Will Collier, Rob Buchanan, Charlie Matthews, Kyle Sinckler and in-form hooker Dave Ward – were this week named in the England training squad preparing for the end of season clash with the Barbarians on June 1 and the subsequent summer tour to New Zealand.
Easter’s performances this season had led to calls for his return to the international scene, but the former Dulwich College student and Rosslyn Park player said: “It would be a pleasant surprise if I got England call up, but, put it this way, I’m not expecting anything.”
Alongwith Kennedy, Harlequins have confirmed injury cover signings Tim Molenaar and Paul Sackey have left the club.
Molenaar played a key part in the club's late run to the Premiership play-offs, while Sackey featured sporadically.
They join Maurie Fa’asavalu, Tom Guest, Sam Smith, Max Crumpton and Nic Mayhew in leaving the club.