Owen Farrell is world's best player, says Nick Easter
"Owen Farrell is the main guy. The best player in the world at the moment, without a shadow of a doubt."
Last Updated: 14/02/19 12:47pm
Owen Farrell is the best player in the world, according to Sharks coach and former England international Nick Easter.
Easter, who finished his international career with 54 caps, is preparing for the opening round of the new Super Rugby season as forwards and breakdown coach at the South African franchise.
The former Harlequin took time out from his afternoon off to join our team on the latest episode of the Will Greenwood Rugby Podcast and hailed the performances of England's fly-half.
"Owen Farrell is the main guy. The best player in the world at the moment, without a shadow of a doubt," said Easter on the Sky Sports' podcast.
Farrell has scored 755 points for England, a number only eclipsed by Jonny Wilkinson, and this Six Nations has stepped up to lead the national side in the absence of Dylan Hartley.
LISTEN: Will Greenwood podcast
Listen to the new episode as Rupert Cox and Will Greenwood talk Six Nations, Super Rugby and hear from James Horwill, Nick Evans and Nick Easter.
The 27-year-old has led that charge from his most natural position at 10 with Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade outside of him.
England's new midfield partnership, alongside their back-row unit, are two areas that have particularly caught Easter's eye.
"They've got the balance, right now. Finally, in terms of back-row and centres. I'm absolutely loving that balance," noted the former second and back-row forward Easter.
England's Six Nations opener against Ireland was the first time that Tuilagi and Slade had taken to the international stage together and Easter is full of praise for the way in which they complement each other.
"The centre partnership, it speaks for itself. You've got the play-maker and we know what Manu Tuilagi does.
"You've got the play-making and kicking ability of Henry Slade but that guy is a physical player as well," noted Easter.
"You get found out in international rugby with your weaknesses and basics and sometimes England have tried play-makers at 12 or 13 that haven't quite given you gain-line or prevented the opposition getting over the gain-line. Well, he [Slade] can do that as well."
Shifting his attention to the back-row, an area that Easter knows well from his playing days, the emergence of Mark Wilson has been a real point of note.
"Mark Wilson has come along, they've unearthed him. And, I know that a lot of people have been banging the drum about him, especially the Geordies and correctly so, because this guy allows others to do their jobs very, very well.
"He's a tough bloke. He's playing in his correct position along with Tom Curry, complemented by Billy Vunipola who is close to rediscovering the form of three years ago. That's a back-row with balance - breakdown, work-rate, carrying ability and handling ability."
With such a well-struck balance in the back-row, in Easter's mind, how does that impact upon his former Harlequins team-mate Chris Robshaw?
"It's been hard for the Quins boys [Robshaw, Danny Care and Mike Brown]," said Easter who made 281 appearances as a player for Harlequins.
"But one thing I know about all three of them is that whilst they'll be disappointed, they'll be wishing England well because they've recently been a part of that squad [match-day] and it will inspire them to play well for Harlequins.
"You're going to see some blockbuster performances no doubt from them at Quins. They'll be hungry.
"They know what the carrot is… being a potential legend for the rest of their life [if you're a World Cup winner] and they know that it's also their last chance to do it given the age profile of all of them," added Easter.
"How many times has Chris Robshaw been written off, as a captain and as a player, and he always bounces back. Now I'm not saying he should go straight back in there because as I said, I'm loving the balance of that back-row at the moment and I think they're all performing very, very well.
"But never write that guy off. Never write Danny Care off with what he can give you and how he can change and game and certainly not Mike Brown. We know how tenacious and what a competitor he is.
"It's tough for them but these knock-backs happen in professional sport whether they're at the beginning, middle, later or throughout your career and this is what develops your character, your drive and your resilience.
"And, all of those sort of qualities are needed to win World Cups because ultimately it does come down to who can deal with the pressure the most."