- Centre challenges himself to be better
- Eastmond determined to improve bond with Burns and Tuilagi
Kyle Eastmond returns to England’s midfield for Saturday’s third and final Test at Waikato Stadium in a composed yet determined frame of mind.
While buoyed by an impressive showing in the series opener a fortnight ago, the Bath Rugby man says there is more he can add to the tourists’ effort this time around.
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His performance at Eden Park was excellent across the board – featuring nine tackles without missing one, some dogged industry at the breakdown and one sparkling break that sliced the All Blacks open – but the 24-year-old has worked tirelessly on improving the little details.
Given England have perhaps slipped in the game management department this month at crucial moments, allowing New Zealand to build irresistible momentum, Eastmond believes his first port of call must be clear communication with fly half Freddie Burns and midfield partner Manu Tuilagi.
“The coaches have really been helping me out the past week on the little things I can help the team out with,” he said. “That’s what I’ll be trying to put into practice this weekend.
“For me it’s a case of understanding when we need to play and when we might need to kick the ball.
“It’s about the information I can give to my teammates, especially my 10 inside me – being his eyes and telling him when there is space to kick into and things like that.”
Photo: Getty Images
Despite making such an impression in Auckland, Eastmond stepped aside for Billy Twelvetrees last weekend as Stuart Lancaster turned to his first-choice centres from the recent RBS 6 Nations.
Recalling those two conversations with his Head Coach, the former rugby league man reinforced the squad’s cast-iron self-belief and suggested his teammates were wholly confident of making a dent in New Zealand’s outstanding Hamilton record.
Having now been around the England set-up for a year since his debut in Argentina last summer, Eastmond finished by praising the collective outlook with which the tourists will approach this weekend.
“As a player you want to play in every game, so it’s difficult to be told you’re not. But also, I fully understood that the centres who did well in the Six Nations deserved their chance as well.
“This week [Stuart] told me that I deserved the opportunity again. I’m really happy and hopefully I can put in a good performance for the lads and everybody else.
“The mentality is that we want to win. That doesn’t change – it’s been like that for every game I have been around the camp for. This is no different.”