Simon Easterby: Coach leaves Scarlets for Ireland role

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby is to leave the Welsh region to become Ireland's new forwards' coach.

The 38-year-old will replace John Plumtree, who has stepped down from the role to return to New Zealand.

Easterby was in charge at Parc y Scarlets for two years and ex-team-mate Dafydd Jones, says he will be missed.

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Simon Easterby has put the foundations in place... and he leaves a big gap behind

Dafydd Jones Former Wales and Scarlets back-row

"It's a big loss... he worked hard as a player and he does that as a coach," said ex-Wales back-row Jones before the move was confirmed.

"I just think this opportunity was too good to turn down. He's a young coach, a great coach and it's no surprise that he's been targeted."

Former Fiji coach Wayne Pivac, who also has experience with Auckland in New Zealand, was appointed to assist Easterby ahead of the 2014-15 campaign.

Reports have linked Pivac with succeeding Easterby at Scarlets, where the backs are coached by former Wales wing Mark Jones.

Wayne Pivac

Wayne Pivac has been tipped to succeed Simon Easterby at Scarlets

Danny Wilson, now coaching at Bristol, has remained as a part-time Scarlets scrum-coach while Mark Tainton is their kicking coach.

Scarlets chief executive Mark Davies said: "We also welcome Wayne Pivac, who brings a wealth of experience with him to Parc y Scarlets.

"He has led international rugby with Fiji as well as being involved in Auckland Rugby for more than 15 years.

"He has a broad level of experience across national coaching, Sevens and as a proven head coach."

Easterby played 65 times for Ireland and remains their most capped flanker, but played the majority of his domestic career in west Wales.

He joined Llanelli RFC in 1999 after playing for Leeds Carnegie in his native Yorkshire - both Easterby and his brother Guy qualified for Ireland through their mother - and went on to captain Scarlets when the regional team was formed.

Easterby retired from international rugby in 2008 and from all rugby in 2010 due to a knee injury but continued with Scarlets as defence coach, a role he held for two seasons.

In June 2012 he was named as Scarlets head coach, replacing the Gloucester-bound Nigel Davies.

"He's a proud Irishman, he captained them in his playing days and obviously he's well thought of," Jones added.

"He's been great to Llanelli, to the Scarlets for a number of years and... best wishes to him moving forward.

"It's been difficult over the last couple of years for him, he's a young coach and he wants that success, but he's put the foundations in place... and he leaves a big gap behind."