Nick Easter: England number eight 'never gave up hope'
Number eight Nick Easter says his return to the England set-up feels similar to his international debut.
The 36-year-old has been recalled to the senior squad more than three years after winning his 47th and last England cap, at the 2011 World Cup.
"It's like making my debut again being back in camp," Easter told BBC Sport. "I had never given up hope, but it was looking less and less likely.
"Now it's about integrating [with the squad] as quickly as possible."
Easter was one of a number of senior players jettisoned by Stuart Lancaster when he became the interim England head coach at the start of 2012, with the Harlequins forward part of the disastrous World Cup campaign in New Zealand.
"He [Lancaster] said there was a lot of negative feedback generally about the whole thing in 2011, and he wanted to start a little bit afresh," Easter added.
"He didn't think a lot of the senior group would still be around in 2015, and he told us as much. I clearly disagreed with him, and luckily I'm still here now."
Easter has performed consistently well for Quins over the past few seasons, but it was only after the injury to Gloucester's Ben Morgan that a shock England recall became a genuine prospect.
|Nick Easter's England career|
His return to the fold was confirmed after a meeting with Lancaster in an Ascot pub last week, and he cancelled a holiday in the Caribbean to join up with the England camp.
"I met him on the Monday [before Wednesday's squad announcement]. That was in the pub, he obviously felt that was my second home," the number eight explained.
"We met in there, and it was great, I hadn't spoken to him in three years, and it was really positive. He was really upbeat about the squad, and clearly from the outside I can see the progress they have made as well.
"Now it's about integrating as quickly as possible."
And after being given an international lifeline in the twilight of his career, Easter is desperate to make the most of the opportunity ahead of the Six Nations and the World Cup later this year.
"Clearly the misfortune of Ben Morgan is part of the reason I'm here, but you have got to grab the chance.
"I love being here, but I don't want to be holding pads all the time in training. I want to pull the jersey on. Now it's up to me to prove myself, and if I do get an opportunity to grab it with both hands."
And Easter is well aware of what awaits England in Cardiff next week, having been part of the victorious side there four years ago.
"We went down there in 2011, and there were a lot of verbals beforehand, especially from them," he said.
"It was the very first Friday night Six Nations game and the atmosphere was fantastic. We managed the game really well, we managed the emotional side of it, and we put our gameplan on the park. Hopefully I can bring back memories of that.
"This group as well have learnt a lot from that experience two years ago. They did a job on Wales last year at home.
"Going back into Cardiff, a lot of them are relishing it. I would absolutely love to be there, it's one of the great places to play rugby if nothing else."