'Time for development is over — now we have to deliver'
SIMON Easterby pulled no punches at his first press conference as Scarlets head coach, declaring: "It's time we started delivering."
Easterby, flanked by his coaching team of Mark Jones and Danny Wilson and with his newly appointed captain Rob McCusker alongside him, was in no mood to dampen expectation as the region continue their summer of change.
Instead, the man who was known for his ferocious workrate and courage as a player, sent out a firm message to the Scarlets faithful — that the talk of development is over and that sights are firmly set on success.
"It is not every day you get the chance to head up a great club like this. I wouldn't have been here as long as I have if it didn't mean so much to me," said the former Ireland and Lions flanker, who took over the reins following Nigel Davies's move to Gloucester last month.
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"Nigel's departure has given me and the other coaches the opportunity to step forward and given us the opportunity to set our own path and hopefully deliver some success.
"As a region we have been good at developing players and our record in producing players for the national team speaks for itself. But when we look at our results and our success in terms of what the team has done, we have probably fallen below some standards and where we believe we should be.
"The big challenge for me is to step beyond that and say 'Yes we have been good in the last couple of years, but we haven't won anything'.
"We have to be strong enough to say we have to do better and that two top-five finishes in the RaboDirect isn't good enough.
"The big challenge is to get more out of the players we have and more out of the coaches, which will allow us to take that next step into the quarter-finals of Europe and semi-finals of RaboDirect so we are challenging consistently for silverware."
Easterby, who only finished playing two years ago, insisted his will be very much a hands-on tracksuit role with the region, putting in a structure to allow others to carry out various off-field commitments.
"My priority is to coach and be on the pitch every session, that won't change," he added. "I am still young in terms of my coaching experience and it is important that I am given the support that I can carry on that coaching development.
"Hopefully, there is not too much disruption. I am delighted to get the opportunity to head up the coaching set-up but not too much will change.
"We are not going to try to reinvent the wheel. We just want to get better at whatever we do. That comes down to individual work ethic and astuteness and awareness of what we need to improve on.
"We still want to play the Scarlets brand of rugby, that is a given, and we want to win things as well, we have just got to get the balance right. If we do that we will be on the right track.
"In terms of development, there are still players coming through the system — that will always be the case.
"But this year was always going to be the performance year in Nigel's plan and I don't see that changing.
"We have got to step out of that development stage and realise we are here to win things. As a player you look back at your career and always wish you had won certain things and all those things I look back at are with the club.
"I want these players to understand these days can go very quickly so if you don't take what's in front of you in the here and now, it can soon pass you by.
"This year and next year has got to be where we get performance and results."