Eastmond Grand Final hopes over

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The Independent Online

St Helens have abandoned any hope of Kyle Eastmond being fit to face Wigan in the Super League Grand Final tomorrow.

The England half-back limped off during his comeback match against Huddersfield and a scan has shown that he has ankle ligament damage. The Saints coach, Mick Potter, has left him out of his 19 for Old Trafford and he must be regarded as highly unlikely to be ready for the English squad for the Four Nations.

Jonny Lomax has been passed fit and is the likely half-back partner for Matty Smith in the final. Matty Ashurst is also available and is included in the 19-man squad. Wigan stick with the same 19 they took to Leeds last week.

Bradford's Andy Lynch will captain England against Cumbria in the Garry Purdham benefit match at Whitehaven on Sunday. All 19 members of Steve McNamara's party will play, but Chris Riley of Warrington starts in the potential problem position of full-back.

"I'm sure the people of Cumbria will see an exciting performance from a team of international standing and I hope they will turn out in their numbers to pay tribute to a man who was rugby league through and through," said McNamara.

The England coach also hinted that he might name a fourth Australian-based player, Wests Tigers' former Wigan loose forward Mark Flanagan, when he finalises his Four Nations squad on Monday.

Flanagan has had a successful first season in the NRL and McNamara said: "Mark is in the mix." The other three Englishmen in the Australian competition – Gareth Ellis, Sam Burgess and Gareth Widdop – are all fit and will be included.

Gareth Thomas is set to make his Welsh rugby league debut at the age of 36 in the side to play Italy in the European Cup at Wrexham on Sunday.

Hull KR have described suggestions that their big signing for next season, Willie Mason, could be involved in a betting scam at North Queensland Cowboys as "pure speculation and hearsay."

Harlequins have re-signed Jamie O'Callaghan and Danny Ward.

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