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What’s happened to the ‘next Jason Robinson’ Kyle Eastmond and where to now?

By Nathaniel Cope
Kyle Eastmond /Getty

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Kyle Eastmond is just 28 years old and is without a club after being released by Wasps at the end of the season. He was once feted as one of England’s bright prospects following his code switch from rugby league in 2011, with anticipation that he could be the ‘next Jason Robinson’, however this hasn’t materialised.

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He’s not been a failure in the mould of the vastly hyped experiment of Sam Burgess, which blew up spectacularly in England’s face at the 2015 World Cup, but there is a whiff of unfulfilled potential about Eastmond.

He was a goalkicking scrum half in league, who won four England caps. Aged just 20 he scored all of St Helens points in the 2009 Grand Final defeat to Leeds for St. Helens, the talent was there. It took Eastmond two years to earn international honours in union when he made his England debut in 2013 under Stuart Lancaster away against Argentina in Salta. Fellow debutants that day were Billy Vunipola, Matt Kvesic and Christian Wade – only one of those has kicked on and had an international career of note.

5’ 7” Eastmond did pick up six caps, all of which came at centre, the last being in November 2014 when he started at 12 outside Owen Farrell, in a 31-28 defeat to South Africa at Twickenham. Failure to make the 2015 World Cup squad was followed by Eddie Jones’ preference to have George Ford at 10 and move Farrell to 12, Eastmond’s international career was doomed.

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A move to Wasps in 2016 seemed an ideal match, with Dai Young’s side playing a swashbuckling style of rugby. However injuries took their toll in his two seasons at the Ricoh. He was limited to just 24 appearances with just four tries to show for it. This season was also blighted by a suspension, he was cited for two dangerous tackles during Wasps win over Harlequins at the beginning of February, a match where he received a red card and was subsequently banned until April 17th. He returned to the fold afterwards and was on the bench for their Aviva Premiership semi-final defeat to Saracens.

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But what’s next for Eastmond, his former club Bath aren’t interested, moving instead for Jamie Roberts from Harlequins, an altogether different player. Toulouse have been linked, they’re on the market for a centre after Gael Fickou joined Top 14 rivals Stade Francais. A return to rugby league has been mooted as a possibility, another of his former clubs, St Helens, have dismissed the suggestion, after what turned out to be an acrimonious departure seven years ago. Leading the chase if he does decide to swap codes again appears to be Warrington Wolves, Eastmond’s union career could be at an end.

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