Harlequins number eight Nick Easter may have announced his retirement from rugby today, but he still cannot wait for next season.

The 37-year-old has called time on his 15-year career having made 281 appearances for Quins, scoiring 54 tries.

He also made 54 appearances for England, scoring nine tries, including three against Uruguay in the 2015 World Cup that made him the oldest player to score a hat-trick in any World Cup tournament.

Easter was appointed as player coach at the Stoop in April, in charge of defence, and he will now take on the role full-time – hence his excitement for the coming season.

He said: “After accepting the opportunity of being a coach-player by John Kingston, I took some time to think about my career.

“I realised that whether I’m playing or coaching, there was no possible way that I would be able to give 100 per cent to both of my roles at the same time.

“I thought, why not grab the opportunity of becoming a coach with both hands, give it my best shot and feel privileged to be in a position to go out on my own terms after 12 great years as a player for Harlequins.”

He added: “I’m a few weeks into my role now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

“Having had five weeks in the off-season to finalise it and four weeks now as a coach, I don’t regret my decision and I can’t wait for the new season to begin.”

Easter joined Quins from Orrell in 2004, making his senior club debut against Worcester Warriors.

Returning to National One after Quins were relegated in 2005, he scored 21 tries to ensure the club returned to the English top flight.

In 2007, he was awarded the first of his England caps, against Italy during the Six Nations.

It was during his fourth Test match, against Wales in the 62-5 victory at Twickenham stadium, that he scored a record four tries.

His performances throughout 2007 earned him a place in Brian Ashton’s Rugby World Cup squad, where Easter helped England reach the World Cup final in Paris.

Four years later he lifted the RBS Six Nations trophy in Dublin, England’s first Six Nations title in eight years.

Helping Quins to the Amlin Challenge Cup final victory in 2011, he returned to the club following that year’s World Cup to play a vital role in helping Quins to its first Premiership title in 2012.

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At the end of the 2013/14 season he became Quins’ most capped professional player, overtaking Ceri Jones’ record of 233.

In 2015, after a four-year absence from the international scene, he was called into Stuart Lancaster’s England squad for the Six Nations and became England’s oldest try scorer in the victory over Italy.

He was then re-called into England’s World Cup squad as an injury replacement for Billy Vunipola and was named man of the match after scoring three tries against Uruguay in England’s final pool game to claim another try-scoring record.

Kingston, Quins director of rugby, said: “Nick has been an unbelievable servant to the Harlequins team for over a decade.

“He has been at the very heartbeat of all the successes the side has achieved over this period.

“Nick has a fantastic rugby brain and it is for this reason I offered him the opportunity to join the new look coaching team at the club.

“Both Nick and I have agreed it is in the best interests of Quins that he focuses on his coaching exclusively from now.”

He added: “While a Quins team without Nick at the helm may seem strange at first, his influence on the group will, if anything, be even greater in his new role as first XV defence coach.”