I've only met Simon Easterby once. I was door knocking in support of Alun Cairns in Barry at the last General Election. We were walking through a residential area when I espied a tall, powerfully built athletic man approaching us, who looked vaguely familiar. It was only when Alun said "Hello Simon" that I realised that I was in the presence of greatness. Mr and Mrs Simon Easterby and Mr and Mrs Alun Cairns were converting farm buildings into houses next to each other. I'm not sure that Alun fully understood what a wonderful rugby player he was dealing with.
I mention this because Simon Easterby announced his retirement from international rugby today, after 65 appearances for Ireland. I have a special regard for back row men, especially the real unsung grafters - the Dai Morris, Gerry Collins types. It was entirely possible to watch a game in which Simon's name was not mentioned by the commentators once - until he was given the Man of the Match award at the end.
I know he's Irish. But with No 1 son, Edward working in Cork for the last few years, and Adrienne, who is marrying No 3 son, Tim in July hailing from Macroom, I feel half Irish myself. Anyway, Simon has given such fantastic and loyal service to the Scarlets and has married a lovely Welsh girl, with a fine rugby pedigree herself, and has settled down here, I see him as an honorary Welshman. He deserves his place on a Wales based blog. So its thanks for the memories and best wishes to a gentleman and a star in retirement.