Eastmond nears exit after Saints suspend him for obscene gesture
Thursday 17 March 2011
Kyle Eastmond could have played his last game for St Helens after the club suspended him for allegedly making an obscene gesture at his own fans. The scrum-half, who is moving to rugby union with Bath at the end of the season, is accused of making the sign at the end of Saints' home defeat by Harlequins last Friday.
Eastmond was barracked by supporters critical of his performances this season and is alleged to have responded in a way that has brought complaints. Two weeks earlier, he apologised to fans after ignoring them following the loss to Warrington. The club said that it was investigating claims of serious misconduct and would make no further comment until that investigation was complete.
Eastmond is most unlikely to play in Saints' next match, at Leeds on Saturday night, with Gary Wheeler the favourite to take his place.
Whatever the outcome of the inquiry, the bad atmosphere between Eastmond and the club's followers could precipitate an early departure, if Saints could come to terms with Bath.
The 21-year-old England international has agreed a lucrative three-year contract with the rugby union outfit, which is due to begin at the end of the Super League season. He announced that decision to his team-mates last month, pledging to give his all during his time left with them.
Leeds also have a player in potential trouble, with their confirmation that they are investigating reports of sick jokes about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami posted on the internet by Ryan Bailey.
"We are taking the allegations very seriously," said a club spokesman about the jokes, which have since been removed from Bailey's Facebook page.
The 27-year-old former Test forward has not played for Leeds so far this season because of injury.
Wakefield have dropped their strongest hint yet that they would be prepared to consider sharing a new ground with Castleford after all.
Trinity, who have been told that their present stadium does not meet Super League standards, have previously rejected the idea of moving in with their neighbours.
But in an open letter to supporters the club's new chairman, Andrew Glover, who bought it out of administration recently, says that it will have to be considered, along with upgrading Belle Vue or sharing with another sporting club in Wakefield.
Glover says he understands that moving in with their great rivals will "not sit pretty with a lot of fans, but it may be the only way forward".
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