Rhinos on the lookout for Eastmond replacement

Leeds Rhinos are already looking for a new half-back after dual-code international Kyle Eastmond announced his retirement from professional rugby.

The announcement came after the 31-year-old back made just two appearances for the club.

The ex-St Helens and England player returned to Rugby League with the Rhinos on a two-year contract in March after nine years playing rugby union with Bath, Wasps and Leicester.

Having played four times for the England RL team, all at the 2009 Four Nations tournament, Eastmond made six appearances for the England rugby union side in 2013 and 2014.

His Leeds debut in the 19-6 home defeat by Wigan in round three of Super League on April 15 was his first game of either kind of rugby since March 2020.

He also played in the 26-6 round-four loss at Hull KR on Friday, April 23.

Eastmond explained: “I love rugby and will always be involved in it. I’ve come to realise the passion to influence the game is no longer on the field. It is this love and respect for the game that leads me to this decision.

“I would like to say thank you so much to Leeds Rhinos, (director of rugby) Kevin Sinfield and all the fans and wish the team all the best for the rest of the season.”

Sinfield said: “I think this is an incredibly brave decision by Kyle.

“When we originally spoke to him, we had belief in his ability and talent and that remains the case.

“However, after a year out of rugby due to the pandemic, he has found that he is unable to reach the standards he expects of himself in training and playing.

“The fact he had a contract for this year and next but decided to hang up his boots speaks volumes about his integrity.

“He will leave the club with our best wishes for the future.”

Rob Lui has confirmed he will leave Leeds at the end of this season, while fellow halfback Callum McLelland is out of contract.

And Sinfield added: “It’s fair to say there is a hole there now.

“This has happened very, very quickly and we have always our eye on the market.”

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