6 Dec, 21:27
Munster A tasted defeat for the first time this season as they went down 17-7 to Plymouth Albion in the British and Irish Cup on Friday night.
English by birth, maybe Welsh by inclination, certainly Irish by declaration thanks to his Irish mother, Easterby was and remains one of ther most respected and likeable characters in world rugby.
But obviously his main focus this weekend is rugby and he will play a central role in scheming to bring about Munster's downfall and keep his Scarlets in contention for a place in the knock-outs.
His plans in that direction will require the help of captain Matthew Rees and his skipper makes no bones of the hurt the squad are feeling following the defeat last weekend.
“We were bitterly disappointed but have bounced back this week and the attitude of the boys has been brilliant. We’ve kept our heads down and restored our focus and we will bring all we have with us on this trip because we know we have to, to keep our campaign in Europe on track.
“It's a difficult task ahead of us to come out here and get a win, but we also know if we can get to the top of our game we have the strike power with good ball to take sides apart away from home – like we did in Northampton.
“We’ve proven we have it in us and we’ll put some things right in training and come with the right attitude next weekend. We’ll be upbeat and concentrate on the game in front of us.”
He said the players were up for the away challenge: “We have a strong squad and some great talent in it and if we can cut out some of the mistakes from last week we know we have the ability and the will to win in Limerick this weekend.
“As a group we’re hungry for success – last weekend was a blow for us but we have to come back fighting – we still have a big opportunity here and after the performance in Northampton away from home, there is belief that we can achieve it.”
Rees said the international youngsters had brought added energy into the group and the Scarlets ambitions were heightened this season.
“We’ve invested well in terms of the bringing through some great new Welsh talent here at Parc y Scarlets, with a number of our boys gaining international honours – and a lot of that is down to the hard work and commitment from the coaching team at Parc y Scarlets.
“We’ve quietly built-up momentum and belief in this squad and we’re going about our business as we do normally, taking each game as it comes.”
Rees said: “Up front we know we’ll need hard graft first to create that platform for our backs -who we know can produce some good tries. Put those two things together, getting them working and we can be very dangerous.”
The Scarlets captain, with 47 caps for Wales and who played in his 150th game for the Scarlets at the memorable Northampton victory in Franklin’s Garden’s last month, said Munster bring huge experience, composure and the belief into their game.
“Munster have been one of the best sides in Europe over the last 10 years and they know how to turn it on for the Heineken Cup. We know what they are like with the ball in hand, and the ability to go through phases and will fight to the end as they showed at our home ground last weekend.
“We will need to bring the same level of intensity into set-piece and at break down and this time take control of our game. We are two clubs with equally strong traditions and passionate support and no doubt it will be another intense and atmospheric game of rugby.”