The Scarlets have agreed to release their head coach Simon Easterby to support him in taking up a role with Ireland.
The Scarlets have agreed to release their head coach Simon Easterby to support him in taking up a role with Ireland's international coaching set-up next season, where he will success John Plumtree as forwards coach of the Six Nations champions.
The move, which was finalised between the IRFU and Scarlets Board this week, will allow Easterby to pursue one of his biggest career ambitions – to coach the international side and country that he won 65 caps for between 2000 and 2008.
His international career saw him become the most capped back row forward for Ireland whilst playing, and with an Irish mother and brother Guy Easterby, another former international currently team manager at Leinster – a future career path in Ireland was mapped out for the highly-regarded Scarlets head coach.
Described by Easterby as an “emotional decision”, he said he was grateful to the region for supporting him in the move and will stay on throughout the pre-season and start of Scarlets season before moving to Ireland, to ensure a smooth hand-over.
A dedicated Scarlet, Easterby first joined the West Wales Region in 1999 with a distinguished career for Llanelli and Scarlets which saw him captain his side for five consecutive seasons making 196 appearances and scoring 19 tries and playing more than 50 European games in the Scarlets jersey.
“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,” said Easterby.
“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 off-season.
“We've worked hard to make good quality signings that will further strengthen our squad and I believe the Scarlets will go forward very positively next season.
“We have seen good progress over the past two years in our rugby environment and have retained coaching expertise in technical areas of scrum, kicking and skills development. We have a strong back-room with an excellent medical, strength and conditioning, analysis and coaching group in place and in particular, we are fortunate to have Mark Jones, Mark Tainton (kicking coach) as well as scrum coach Danny Wilson still involved.
“We also welcome Wayne Pivac, who brings a wealth of experience with him to Parc y Scarlets; he has led international rugby with Fiji as well as being involved in Auckland Rugby for more than 15 years.
“He has a broad level of experience across national coaching, sevens and as a proven head coach; he also brings expertise in forwards coaching and the breakdown area which will strengthen our coaching team here and give a wider dimension to our rugby group.”
“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.”