Bath Rugby's Kyle Eastmond shows his versatility at fly-half
Kyle Eastmond’s appearance at fly-half in last weekend’s 40-17 win at Bucharest Wolves is unlikely to be a flash in the pan, with the Bath Rugby coaching set-up eager to exploit his versatility, writes Harry Abbott.
The former St Helens rugby league ace produced an impressive display at number ten as a second-half replacement during the Amlin Cup opener.
And now first-team coach Brad Davis says deploying Eastmond in the position again in the future is something Bath are certainly considering.
“Something we wanted to try to achieve in the Bucharest game was giving players the chance to play in different positions and have different roles,” said Davis.
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“Kyle was one of those. He did well and it’s his natural game to be a first receiver from his days playing rugby league. He made all the right decisions and it’s something that could be an option for us in the future.
“It’s obviously different having that role in union but with the skills he’s got we try to get him on the ball in those first and second receiver roles as much as we can.
“But he is still developing his game. Every time we get him on the training field we work with him because we need to make sure we get him in the right positions on the field.”
Eastmond is back in his familiar position on the wing for Bath’s trip to SU Agen tonight (7.45pm), their second away Amlin fixture in six days.
With the early Pool 4 lead up for grabs, following their Top 14 opponents’ 36-31 success at Calvisano, Davis knows another victory will give Bath the advantage.
“If we can come away with another win it will put us in a really strong position but we know it’s going to be a massive challenge against what looks a very tough team,” he said.
“French teams are always very strong at home and they play a different way to when they go away.
“Every time you travel across the channel and come back with a win you know it’s a fantastic result, so that’s what we’ve got to try to do.”
Head coach Gary Gold has named a strong squad for tonight’s clash, with just five of last Saturday’s starting XV retaining their place.
Stephen Donald is named at fly-half, partnering Michael Claassens, while Ben Williams and Dan Hipkiss line-up in the centres. Eastmond joins Tom Biggs and Nick Abendanon in the back three.
Dominic Day partners Dave Attwood in the second row, while Lee Mears starts at hooker, with Paul James and David Wilson at either side. Francois Louw returns to captain the side, joining Ben Skirving and Will Skuse in the back row.
Although Louw is fit to play, fellow international returnee, Argentine Horacio Agulla, must wait for his Bath debut. The summer recruit from Leicester Tigers is more likely to feature during the return of the Aviva Premiership when Exeter Chiefs visit The Rec next Saturday.
“Francois and Horacio have trained and been involved in everything we’ve done this week but I think it may be a week too soon for Horacio,” added Davis.
“He was a big coup when he signed him. He’s a player with huge Premiership and international experience and we know he can bring something different to our back-line.”
Bath Rugby team v Agen: Abendanon, Eastmond, Hipkiss, Williams, Biggs, Donald, Claassens, James, Mears, Wilson, Day, Attwood, Louw (capt), Skuse, Skirving.
@Replacements: Tanner, Catt, Perenise, Mercer, Ovens, McMillan, Vesty, Woodburn.