Kyle Eastmond, one of the five salary cut Leicester rebels who opted to quit the Gallagher Premiership club last summer rather than play for less pay, is finally back in rugby having signed for Leeds Rhinos in the Super League. Manu Tuilagi (Sale), Telusa Veainu (Stade Francais), Noel Reid (Agen) all found alternative union clubs pretty quickly, with Greg Bateman joining Dragons nine weeks later.

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However, there was no word on Eastmond post-Leicester until this Wednesday when he was unveiled as a new Rhinos signing on a two-year deal. The 31-year-old first switched to rugby union in 2011, initially joining Bath and then moving to Wasps in 2016 before joining Tigers two years later.

He was also capped on a half dozen occasions by England, starting three times in the centre against the All Blacks in 2014. Eastmond had initially made his name in league for St Helens, becoming a regular in their side in 2008 alongside Sean Long, the recent former Harlequins assistant who is now assisting at the Rhinos.    

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After his return to league was confirmed, Eastmond told the Rhinos website: “I’m excited to be coming back to Rugby League. Just like the timing was right for me when I went to rugby union, the time is right for me to come back to league now. 

“I was coached by Richard Agar when I was younger and obviously played alongside Sean Long at Saints. This move is about me playing my very best rugby and this environment and this group of staff and players gives me confidence that I can do that. If I’m happy and in the right environment then that means I can  play at my best and that is what is going to happen.”

Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield added: “We are delighted to be able to bring Kyle Eastmond back to rugby league. With the injury to Rob Lui, we have been keen to boost our options in the half-back position and I’m sure Kyle will excel in our environment. 

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“We have been speaking over the last week and I know he had a number of options both in England and overseas to continue his rugby union career. The fact he is coming back to league is great news for us and the Super League competition.”

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