Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
BATH RUGBY: ‘Eastmond must be used the right way’
FORMER rugby league man Kyle Eastmond can make an impact for England – providing the national team play to his strengths, according to his Bath coach Mike Ford.
Eastmond’s merits as an international centre have come under more scrutiny ahead of the next month’s Autumn Tests, injuries to last season’s regular pairing of Saracens Brad Barritt and Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi leaving the ex-St Helens man and Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees as candidates to start against Australia on November 2.
The 24-year-old impressed for his club last season and did likewise on England’s summer tour to Argentina and while Ford is in no doubt about his quality, he believes England’s gameplan will determine whether Eastmond is a success on the biggest stage.
“If they play the type of game that suits Kyle, he’s ready,’’ said Ford. “If they let him be a first or second receiver, a ball-carrying type of person, he does that at 12 as good as anyone.
“Defensively, he’s fine and a good decision-maker but his uniqueness and fleet of foot to duck under tackles is Jason Robinson-like. They’re not the same player but his size and footwork in midfield could be crucial for England.
“Over the last 12 months, his rugby education has been fantastic.
“He’s doubled or trebled his knowledge and awareness of the game.
“He played every Premiership game for us last season, I think.
“He’s still got quite a way to go and you never stop learning at this game but the more experience he’ll get, the more decisions he makes, the better he’ll become.’’ Lock Dave Attwood’s hopes of a starting spot for England next month could be under threat from the rib injury he suffered against London Irish.
Attwood was named skipper for the clash against the Exiles, but lasted just five minutes of the 33-18 triumph before being replaced by club captain Stuart Hooper.
The injury is likely to keep him out of action for two to three weeks, not only ruling him out of tonight’s Aviva Premiership trip to Sale, but also Amlin Challenge Cup appointments with Bordeaux-Begles and Newport Gwent Dragons later this month.
Bath face Attwood’s former club Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership on October 25, but that’s just eight days before England host Australia in the first of three November Tests.
Ford said: “We’re still not sure what the prognosis is (on Attwood) but it’s two or three weeks really.
“The injury for him is unfortunate for timing because Stuart (Lancaster) will be looking at these next games.
“He’s got three games to probably make his mind up (on his England side) and I think Dave will be struggling to make them.’’
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @WTSport