Nick Easter (File)
London - Nick Easter says he is "absolutely thrilled" to be in his third World Cup for England after being summoned to fill the boots of injured No 8 Billy Vunipola on Monday.
Vunipola's World Cup is over after suffering a knee injury during England's devastating 28-25 defeat by Wales.
Easter, now 37, was in the England side that lost the 2007 World Cup final to South Africa in Paris. He could now face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday in a match where defeat would leave England close to becoming the first host nation to exit the tournament at the group stage.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," said Easter. "It's what I've kept digging in for since 2011.
"I came back at the start of the year, worked hard and just missed out on selection last month. The management said I was on standby and that anything can happen.
"It's very unfortunate for Billy. He played very well against Wales and was a star of the Six Nations. You'd like to be in the original squad but clearly I'm very honoured to be here."
Easter's World Cup role seemed destined to being a pitchside pundit at games, a task he carried out for England's opening win over Fiji and their dramatic reverse against Wales.
He is perhaps most famous for remarking, after England were beaten by France in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals, "that's $53,000 gone down the toilet," although he insisted the comment was taken out of context.
Nevertheless, the 52-times capped loose forward was sent into Test exile by England coach Stuart Lancaster in 2012 before being recalled for this year's Six Nations.
Now, rather than sharing his knowledge with fans at Twickenham, the Harlequins back-row hopes his experience can benefit England in what promises to be the most high-pressure match many of his team-mates will have known.
"The players are looking forward to the biggest week of their lives, which it is. It's knockout rugby from here on in," Easter said.
"The most important thing for me to do is to play well. Just through my sheer number of years in the game I've been in pressure situations.
"I have an understanding of what sort of advice to give and I'd like to lend my experience if I am involved, whether it be in the 23 or the 31.
"I will try to impart some previous knowledge but it's all about 8:00pm this weekend," added Easter, who could leapfrog fellow No 8 Ben Morgan, who has been struggling with a knee injury, into the side.
"It's a new game with new situations and we have a very, very good squad who can deal with it."
England and Australia are to name their teams on Thursday.