The newly-appointed Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby says the opportunity to become Head Coach of the region he has served for more than 13 years as a player and coach is "a huge honour."
Easterby, 36, made the transition from player to coach two years ago and since then has been at the helm of the Scarlets’ defense game making a big impression at Parc y Scarlets in just two seasons.
Held in high regard by players and coaching colleagues alike for his ambition and mental toughness, Easterby has been core part of the Scarlets region since 1999 both as a player and coach.
The former Irish international flanker, captained the Scarlets for five consecutive seasons, and concluded a distinguished rugby career, having played more than 50 European games, 201 games (19 tries) for Llanelli and the Scarlets with 65 caps for Ireland plus the honour of two British and Irish Lions caps.
Easterby, who made his debut for Ireland in the 2000 Six Nations and retired from Test match rugby after the 2008 tournament, lived and breathed rugby at the top level for more than a decade before taking that experience into his career as a coach.
The appointment comes after the departure of former Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies who has left the region to take up a position as the new Director of Rugby at Gloucester.
Easterby will lead a strengthened Scarlets coaching group alongside Backs Coach Mark Jones, Strength and Conditioning Coach Brad Harrington and the newly appointed Forwards Coach Danny Wilson. The appointment ensures a strong structure and continuity and consistency of environment, values and approach for the playing squad within a close-knit Scarlets set-up. The Scarlets will also work with the WRU on the appointment of another specialist skills coach.
Simon Easterby said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to take rugby forward as Scarlets Head Coach, it is a real honour and privilege for me. I’ve had lots of individual challenges in my life and this will be one of the biggest of my career, but I have always pushed myself hard and set myself high standards. I will give it my all and I’m grateful to the Chairman and board of directors who are putting their faith in me.
“The values instilled deep within the Scarlets have been in place for almost 140 years, so like Nigel and Gareth before me I will ensure we never lose sight of who we are as well as putting my own stamp on our ambitions and our game.
“I’d like to personally thank Nigel (Davies) for all the support he has given me and the other young coaches, it’s a disappointment that he’s leaving with all he has done for the Scarlets but he’s been given another opportunity to further himself and believes the time is right to move on and has confidence that we can take on the work he has done and move forward now.
“The Scarlets has been the biggest part of my professional career, its continued success is what drives me and motivates me. Being given the opportunity to coach and now become Head Coach proves the succession plans are working and the club and board have the confidence in me to take things forward.
“Hopefully with the history I have here with our club, we move forward with real excitement while keeping that Scarlets culture right in the heart of what we do.”
Easterby will have a busy summer ahead of him planning and working on an intense pre-season conditioning and training programme, and looking ahead to next season he said: “There is plenty within the coaching and playing group to take us to where this club belongs, competing at the top end of the European game and achieving honours in the domestic game.
“It’s an exciting prospect when you look at the players we have here, our challenge as a coaching group, is to ensure there is very little gap between the standards of performance in all our players from our best players all the way through the squad. We've achieved a lot over the past couple of seasons developing some fantastic talent, playing some great rugby along the way but ultimately we haven't won any silverware.
“We have some of the most passionate and knowledgeable supporters in the game but now its time to reward them and ourselves with success."
Scarlets Chief Executive Mark Davies said: “Under Nigel Davies’ guidance, the development of our coaching group over the last two years has been as significant as that of our players, with Simon (Easterby) and Mark (Jones) taking ownership of key areas of performance on the field.
“The Scarlets philosophy is to develop our rugby future from within our region and provide opportunities for talented individuals, and this applies as much to our coaches as it does our players.
“This is a strong group of talented coaching individuals who all bring different qualities and that will make for a dynamic and effective team. The continuity of Simon and Mark’s input into this Scarlets team is crucial and the leadership and respect they have with the players is key to us taking the region forward.
“Simon has proved what a strong and natural leader he is throughout his rugby career. He commands great respect and has the ambition to take this region forward. We believe he will bring a lot to this role and he has the full confidence of our board of directors who will give him their complete support and wish him every success with the team on the field.”