Eastmond out of French Test but fit for Saints' cup tie

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The Independent Online

Kyle Eastmond is out of England's team to play France this month, but should be fit in plenty of time for St Helens' resumption of Challenge Cup hostilities with Leeds.

The scrum-half injured his ankle in the victory over Barrow in the last round and has been ruled out for four weeks.

"The scan revealed ligament damage, but thankfully there is no problem with the bones or cartilage, which would have meant a longer lay-off," said a club spokesman.

England's management were deciding last night whether to bring a replacement into the squad for the Test at Leigh on 12 June.

For Saints, however, the long gap between Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals works in their favour, as they do not face Leeds for a place at Wembley until 7 August.

"It's unfortunate for Kyle and England, but he should be back in plenty of time for the semi," said Saints coach, Mick Potter, who praised the way that Eastmond has taken over the mantle of Sean Long this season. "He's done that really well," Potter said. "He's shown durability and his kicking is improving all the time."

This is the ninth time in 12 seasons that Leeds and Saints have drawn each other in the cup, but nobody at either club is bored by the rivalry. "It will be another game with all the attributes you want from top-class rugby league," said Potter, who bows out at the end of the season and has yet to win a trophy with Saints.

He is unlikely to be rejoining his former club, Catalan Dragons, however. "The object of the exercise is to go back to Australia," he said.

Catalans have been paired with the cup-holders, Warrington, in the other semi-final and the Wolves captain, Adrian Morley, says that they will not be deceived by the Dragons occupying last place in the Super League table.

"You can throw that form out of the window in a cup semi-final," he said. "We know how dangerous they can be."

Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-finals 7 Aug Leeds v St Helens (Huddersfield); 8 Aug Warrington v Catalan Dragons (Leigh).

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