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Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Sunday, 11 October 2009 14:21 UK

Eastmond is Saints' future - Long


Long bows out with demoralising defeat

Outgoing St Helens scrum-half Sean Long has tipped Kyle Eastmond to be a more-than able replacement next season.

Eastmond, 20, scored all of Saints' points as they lost 18-10 to Leeds in Saturday's Grand Final at Old Trafford.

"Saints are in good hands with Kyle," said Long, 33, who is moving to Hull on a two-year deal after a glittering 12-year spell at Knowsley Road.

"He's electric on his feet and he can handle it. I thought he was one of our best players."

Saints' third successive Grand Final defeat by Leeds marked the end of Long's association with the club.

The former Great Britain star won 11 trophies after arriving from Wigan in 1997, but is moving to the KC Stadium after Saints were only prepared to extend his contract by a year.

And Long believes Eastmond, who has been with Saints since he was 13, is more than capable of becoming his natural successor.

"Kyle knows the script, he's in good hands with the coaching staff and the players will help him," said Long.

"Leon (Pryce), Keiron (Cunningham) and (Paul) Wellens, they'll help him. Saints are in good hands with him."

Eastmond was in no mood to reflect on his own performance at Old Trafford, but did reveal he feels ready to take Long's place in the number seven jersey next season.


"Longy is awesome," he said. "I think for somebody who has done that much in the game and has constantly played well he deserves everything he gets, and I wish him and his family all the best for the future.

"I think I can have a go at replacing him. I'm a year older with another season under my belt and hopefully I can do better.

"I'm really not interested in any points I score and my performance. How I contribute to the team and if my team win is all that matters."

The defeat means Saints have ended a season without a trophy for the first time since 2003, with Leeds again getting the upper hand in what has become one of the Super League's grudge matches.

But Long admits that he is happy for his former team-mates to carry on their duel with the Rhinos without him.

"There's no disappointment for me," he said. "I have to move on now. It was in my mind that it was my last game for Saints and I'm moving on. I'll leave it to St Helens to sort Leeds out and I'll be cracking on with Hull.

"It still hasn't sunk in that I'm leaving yet. It'll be weird when I get up on Monday morning and realise I don't have to go training with the lads.

"It's been a long time but you've got to get on with it haven't you? I'll miss my mates and they're a good set of lads and I love them to pieces."

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see also
Sinfield hails historic title win
11 Oct 09 |  Leeds
St Helens 10-18 Leeds Rhinos
10 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Grand Final as it happened
10 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Super League Grand Final photo gallery
10 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Long to steer Saints to victory
09 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
I will miss Knowsley Road - Long
05 Oct 09 |  St Helens
I turned down Wigan move - Long
02 Oct 09 |  St Helens
Hull FC sign Saints veteran Long
01 Jun 09 |  Hull

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