The Search Begins

KIERON Purtill says Saints are exploring all options as they search for a replacement for Kyle Eastmond.

Earlier this week the youngster signalled his intention to move to Bath Rugby Union at the end of the current Super League season.

That means Saints are looking for a new scrum half for the 2012 campaign – but there is no panic behind the scenes.

“It’s good for everyone that the announcement is now out,” Saints assistant coach said. “Kyle has had a lot on his mind recently and he can now concentrate on his own game and we can move on.

“He’s had two ankle operations in pre-season and he’s been back in training probably only six weeks in total. Not having a pre-season means he is behind a little bit in a rugby sense and is catching up.

“On top of that he’s had the decision to stay in League or Union and move away from where his family is based too.

“Now all that’s done we are looking for him to re-produce the form he showed in the first half of last year.”

He continued: “The Club did everything they could to keep him and a lot of people sat down with him and gave the pros of staying in League. But, Kyle wanted the opportunity to go to Rugby Union and the decision ultimately wasn’t financial.

“He’s entitled to do that as he is a professional sportsman off contract… but he now has to now finish in right way with the Saints.

“It’s disappointing from one aspect as a lot of time and effort – from the scouting teams right through to under 18s and 20s and the first team – has been spent with him. It is disappointing when you produce one of your own and they move on.

“But on the plus side I suppose we must be doing something right if one our own homegrown players is attracting attention from other clubs and sports. It shows the systems we have are producing players who are of a high enough quality.”

Attention will now, of course, focus on a replacement for next season and Kieron says that search has begun – and the club will look within and from outside.

“I’m not sure there is a readymade replacement straightaway,” he continued. “Lee Gaskell looks better every time he plays but he needs game time. He is a late developer. The search is always an ongoing process at local clubs such as Blackbrook, the National Leagues, Super League and the NRL.

“We are always looking as clubs cannot afford to sit and wait for a replacement to appear. One thing for sure is we will find the right person with the right quality to play for the Saints.

“It’s important that we now focus on the rest of the season and we all want to win something. Kyle was disappointed after Friday with his own performance and he displayed that in the wrong way.

“He’s come out publically and apologised for that, and has stood in front of the players and told them too. He’s also made a promise to the Club and the fans that he will give 100 per cent for the rest of the season. He will be treated no different to anyone else though; if he performs he will get picked, if he doesn’t we’ll look elsewhere.

“There was certainly no unrest with the other players. There has been a lot of banter for a while but as professionals we are used to players coming and going.

“That is common over the last ten years. The players just get on with the job on hand and do what they should do – win games.”


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