KYLE Eastmond will continue his rugby rehabilitation by playing for St Helens against Sheffield Eagles in the Challenge Cup on Saturday.
The 21-year-old England half-back was brought in from the cold for Saints’ exciting 24-24 draw with Hull at the KC Stadium yesterday, which lifted them level on points with engage Super League leaders Warrington.
It was Bath-bound Eastmond’s first appearance for his club since he was disciplined for making abusive gestures to the fans during the team’s surprise home defeat by Harlequins in March.
Eastmond’s behaviour was forgiven, if not forgotten, largely because of an injury crisis that robbed Simmons of the services of five senior half-backs and, with non of them set for an imminent return, he is set to continue his half-back partnership with Jon Wilkin.
Eastmond, who is switching codes when his contract runs out at the end of the season, struggled throughout the first half as Hull established an 18-0 lead, but showed glimpses of his form as St Helens staged their remarkable fightback.
“I hopes he plays better, but I thought he did get better as the game went on,” said Simmons.
“I thought at the back end of the game he started to run ball a bit more. He got a couple of really good kicks away late in the game when we were under a bit of pressure.
“You’ve got to remember he hasn’t played for three or four weeks and both those games were for the Under-20s, so he will be rusty.
“I’ve got no doubt he will be better next week. It wasn’t a poor performance but he will certainly get better.”
Eastmond was completely overshadowed by Hull centre Kirk Yeaman, who looked to have given his side the spoils when he completed a hat-trick of tries six minutes from the end.
But Jamie Foster put over a penalty goal to tie the scores and Eastmond, who had earlier helped set up a try for winger Ade Gardner, had a chance to win it for his side but his drop-goal attempt was charged down.
Saints, behind leaders Warrington only on points difference, now turn their attention to the Cup and Eastmond can expect to face the 1998 winners Sheffield Eagles in Saturday’s fourth-round tie at the Stobart Stadium.
As for Simmons, he will clearly be glad when the whole Eastmond saga is over.
“I think it’s all be dealt with and done,” he said. “I’m sick of talking about it to be honest. It’s been going on and on, so I’m making a rule now not to talk about it.”