THE IRFU HAVE confirmed Simon Easterby as Ireland’s new forwards coach.
Capped 65 times by Ireland during his playing days, Easterby will join Joe Schmidt’s backroom staff from the Scarlets.
The 38-year-old has been head coach of the Welsh region since 2012, having worked as a defence coach for the club for two years prior to that.
Easterby replaces New Zealander John Plumtree, who left Ireland this summer after a single season in charge of the forwards. The Kiwi departed with his reputation enhanced after overseeing major improvements in Ireland’s line-out and maul.
Former back row Easterby, who has similar coaching strengths to Plumtree, will stay on at the Scarlets throughout the current pre-season and start of the Pro12 season before moving to Ireland ahead of the November Tests.
With the Scarlets having agreed to release Easterby from his contract to take up Schmidt’s offer, the Irishman said:
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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Ireland head coach Schmidt added:
“Simon has tremendous test match experience combined with an in-depth knowledge of the current national squad players. He is well known to Irish rugby supporters and to many of the players and his knowledge and experience will help drive the team forward.”