Easter still full of World Cup regret

England number eight Nick Easter has still not come to terms with losing the 2007 World Cup final to South Africa - and he never wants to.

Easter is one of only three of England’s starting XV for tomorrow’s Twickenham clash with the Springboks that began the final in Paris 13 months ago.

Just as they did against Australia last week, England gave away kickable penalties and the Springboks punished them to win 15-6.

“It was suicidal. We gave away some penalties that night which we should never have given away and we lost by nine points,” said Easter, whose mother is South African.

“There is regret. I remember (Rugby Football Union director of elite rugby) Rob Andrew spoke to the guys afterwards and said: ‘You’ll never get over it’.

“I don’t think you should be able to get over it. If you do, there is something wrong. The burning desire is obviously lost from within you if that happens.

“However well we do tomorrow, it won’t compensate for the final - but that is now gone.

“We are looking forward to the future. This is a new England. Things have started well off the pitch. We could have done with a win against Australia last week but we are looking to make amends tomorrow.”

Easter is already considered a senior player in the England camp despite only amassing 18 caps. He has faced the Springboks four times and lost all of them.

England were hammered 36-0 in the pool stages of the World Cup and a weakened touring squad were thumped 58-10 and 55-22 in the summer of 2007.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of three hidings from them,” said Easter.

“This is a new team and I suppose a lot of the guys aren’t scarred from that. It hasn’t affected me - I have a chance to play the world champions in our own backyard tomorrow and get one over on them.”

It was only in July Easter appeared to have dropped out of the England reckoning after being relegated from the senior squad to the Saxons.

Privately, England’s coaches hoped the news would give him a “kick up the backside”. It worked. Easter’s performances for Harlequins confirmed his position as England’s first-choice number eight.

“I was happy with the way I played last season but was unfortunate to break my hand against the Barbarians in the last game before England went out to New Zealand and I had to come home again,” said Easter.

“Luke Narraway and James Haskell played well out there. When (England manager) Martin (Johnson) phoned me up, I said: ‘I will carry on working hard, get a really good pre-season and I’ll be ready to go again.’

“Missing the tour didn’t seem like a good thing when I found myself in the Saxons but in the end it was.

“It had been full-on from the 2007 South Africa tour, the army camps, the World Cup and then the season.

“It allowed me to get fresh. I have been able to concentrate on playing well for Harlequins and achieve the ultimate of playing for England.”