Easter backs Borthwick as captain

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The Independent Online

Nick Easter is flattered to be touted as a future England captain but believes Steve Borthwick is the right man for the job.

Borthwick's place in England's starting XV has been thrown into doubt thanks to the emergence of powerful Northampton lock Courtney Lawes.

Martin Johnson has handed the captain's armband to Borthwick in all 14 of his matches since taking over as England head coach in 2008.

Nevertheless, Johnson declined to confirm last week whether Borthwick will captain the side for England's RBS Six Nations campaign, which kicks off against Wales on February 6 at Twickenham.

Harlequins number eight Easter has been mentioned as a possible alternative to Sarries captain Borthwick but he is happy to defer to the current incumbent.

"It is flattering that people think of you in that light but I would give Steve my backing for the captaincy," Easter told Press Association Sport.

"Steve is a tremendous captain. He brings so much intensity and professionalism to every training session.

"When he says something he isn't just saying it for the sake of it.

"He was under pressure in the autumn but we didn't have many players available. We just lost to New Zealand and beat Argentina in the last two games.

"Steve played some of his best rugby for England in the last two games as well.

"He has been captaining Sarries well this season. They've been there or thereabouts at the top of the league and I think he's a natural leader."

Easter was sidelined with a calf injury for England's autumn Tests when Johnson's side struggled past Argentina and lost to New Zealand and Australia.

Johnson's options were severely restricted due to injury and Easter admits England have to start performing now Johnson has a full squad to pick from.

"The players and the management have this belief that now is the time to deliver," Easter said, at an event organised by Gatorade.

"There's not long to go to the World Cup now. It's just over 18 months away. This is a bona fide competition where results matter, it's outcome-driven and there's a trophy to play for which is ultimately what happens in a World Cup.

"It's not a knockout tournament but if we are to set standards and to be the world's best then we have to conquer our hemisphere first of all and we can only do that by winning the Six Nations.

"It will be mightily difficult but we can do it."