Sale back-row calls it a day

Date published: May 5 2016

Sale Sharks back-row Mark Easter has announced that he will be retiring after Saturday's Premiership encounter with Newcastle Falcons.

The 33-year-old Swaziland-born loose forward will taking up a teaching role at a school in Shropshire.

Easter has currently made 97 appearances for Sale since his debut in 2011. He joined the club from Northampton Saints, where he made 113 appearances.

"I'm pretty lucky, I've been given an opportunity outside of rugby at a school, so I just felt it was the right time in my career," Easter commented in an official release issued by the club following the announcement of his decision to retire.

"I've really enjoyed my time here, and possibly could have played here a couple more years, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to retire on my own terms.

"I've really enjoyed playing this season, being involved in the side, so I feel it's a great way to end my career."

Reflecting on his numerous highlights from his nine-year career, Easter said: "I really enjoyed my six years at Northampton, and my final five years here at Sale have been brilliant.

"Winning the Challenge Cup, LV= Cup and getting to Heineken Cup Final with Saints really stand out. But, we've done really well at the Sharks too, we've nearly always been challenging for a place in the leading pack.

"It's a good club, and I've enjoyed my time here, I didn't really want to go anywhere else. It was the right time to leave on my own terms, which not many people do. I've had the chance for these last few games just to enjoy and savour them, enjoy the last few weeks, and I've been really lucky."

He is set to take up a teaching role at Wrekin College, Shropshire, and said he's been planning this move for a while.

"The last few years, I've been tailoring my career towards teaching, so taking a few courses, getting into schools, teaching and coaching," he said.

"The opportunity just came up at the right time, I've enjoyed my rugby. It felt like the right time for me and my family."

Easter is set to be involved against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday, and he said Sale are determined to get the victory.

The AJ Bell Stadium-based side, who currently occupy seventh position in the Premiership table, are only one point behind Harlequins, and a win will put them in an ideal position to qualify for next season's Champions Cup.

"We've got another big challenge on Saturday against Newcastle. There are a few boys leaving; boys with 100 caps leaving; boys with big characters leaving the club so it'll mean a lot to win. It will give us that extra motivation to win," said Easter.

"Newcastle are safe now, and have been competitive all season, their result against Saracens showed it was a close game. They're going to be a bit more dangerous, playing with a bit less pressure, so you might expect them to throw the ball around a bit, but for us we've got a big focus to finish in the Top Six, get as many points as we can, and see how the other results go.

"It would be brilliant to see the club in the Champions Cup next season, and finish the season on a high, and finish my career on a high too."