Bath Rugby's Kyle Eastmond tipped to shine after England Saxons call-up
Kyle Eastmond has been backed to replicate the impressive start to his Bath career on the international stage after being named in the England Saxons Elite Player Squad yesterday.
The exciting 23-year-old has less than 20 union appearances under his belt since making a cross-code switch from St Helens in late 2011.
His relative inexperience is not a problem for England head coach Stuart Lancaster, however, who named Eastmond in a 32-man Saxons squad alongside Bath team-mates Nick Abendanon, Tom Biggs and Nathan Catt. Davey Wilson is the club’s sole representative in the 33-strong Senior Elite Player Squad as there is no place for hooker Rob Webber, who has not played since arriving from Wasps last summer due to a shoulder injury.
Eastmond remains the standout name of Bath’s international call-ups, with the club believing his stock can rise even higher.
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Forwards coach Neal Hatley said: “I think he’s only had about 16 or 18 games, but he’s been absolutely fantastic.
“The comparisons with Jason Robinson, just with his stature and the shape of the way he plays, are inevitable.
“But no matter how big or small people are, if you’ve got the ability to beat defenders one-on-one, which he has in bucketfuls, you are going to be considered.”
It is not just Eastmond’s ability to attack with the ball in hand that has brought him international attention, with Hatley describing him as the “complete player”.
“He’s still learning day by day, but has got a hell of a lot to offer,” said Hatley.
“He’s played stand-off in league, so he kicks the ball and catches it well and is a good defender. He also has unbelievable distribution skills, which is why we’ve brought him in closer to the action off the wing and into 13 because we want to get him involved a bit more.
“He is only going to get better with the more experience he gets and the exposure to a surrounding where he’ll be challenged to step up again will be good for him. He’ll be better for the experience.”
The selection of full-back Abendanon maintains his long-term involvement in the Saxons set-up.
Since winning his first two senior caps in 2007, the 26-year-old has found his international opportunities limited to the second string, but is determined not to give up on further Red Rose honours.
“The reason you go out each week and try to do well is ultimately to play for your country,” said Abendanon.
“I’ve wanted to do that for the last six or seven years, but haven’t really had much of a sniff or a chance.
“To be fair, all the full-backs in England are playing pretty good rugby, so I guess you just have to be patient.
“But when there are so many good full-backs in the country that opportunity doesn’t always come. If it does come, though, hopefully I can grab it with both hands.”
South Africa-born former England flanker Hendre Fourie has been told by immigration officials he can stay in the UK, despite voicing fears he could be deported.