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Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

Eastmond touted as Long successor

Kyle Eastmond
Kyle Eastmond is expected to tie up a new contract with Saints this week

St Helens' England scrum-half Kyle Eastmond is being earmarked as Sean Long's successor after being handed the number seven jersey at Knowsley Road.

The 20-year-old is being tipped to fill the boots of Long, who has joined Hull next season after 12 years at the club.

"He played excellently at centre this year," said Eastmond's Saints and England team-mate James Graham.

"But I'd rather have him in the middle of the park where he can get his hands on the ball a bit more."

Eastmond, who was at scrum-half for England's final two games in their Four Nations campaign, starred at centre in the Grand Final when Saints were beaten 18-10 by Leeds.

But Saints are happy to have him anywhere on the staff as he prepares to start contract talks for next season this week.

"I remember him as a 16-year-old and thinking 'If he keeps his feet on the ground, he can go all the way' and he's starting to get there

James Graham on St Helens and England team-mate Kyle Eastmond

"He has grown lots as a player," added England prop Graham. "And I know it's an old cliche, but the world is his oyster, it really is.

"I remember him as a 16-year-old and thinking 'If he keeps his feet on the ground, he can go all the way' and he's starting to get there."

New Saints signing Sia Soliola, who played for New Zealand in the second row, has been handed Saints' vacant number four jersey, while prop Nick Fozzard has reclaimed the number eight shirt on his return from a season at Hull KR.

Saints coach Mick Potter has promoted academy players Jack Bradbury and Lee Gaskell to his Super League squad.



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