Eastmond commends academy talent

England international and St Helens half-back Kyle Eastmond has thrown his support behind the England Academy side for their two-Test series against the touring Australian Schoolboy’s.

The former England Academy player represented the side in 2006 and went on to make his first team debut for St Helens only a year later and he knows how vital the England Academy experience can be.

“To be selected for your country at that age and to go through the academy competition for the year and get to take that step up, it doesn’t get any better,” said Eastmond.

“No matter what age or level of competition you are playing in, to represent your country is the highest honour you can get and the players in this year’s academy side need to honour that position and have a lot of respect for the shirt.

“All the guys in this year’s side have plenty of talent and it’s great to see these young players coming through and making the grade.

“They need to realise that they are more than capable of competing with and beating the Australians and the games between the two should be very exciting and give these young lads the sort of physical challenge they need to help take them that next step.”

The England Academy has an impressive track record of being the showground place for England’s next stars, with many of England’s recent Four Nations squad having appeared on an Academy team sheet in the last few years

“It’s good going up against the best of Australia’s young players,” said Eastmond. “But the lads playing for England need to remember that they are the best young players in their own country as well.

“Once you understand that, it gives you a great confidence boost and gives you the belief in your own abilities that helps you take that next step and progress to become a first team Super League regular and then onto senior international level.

“You learn an awful lot from playing against the Australian Schoolboys because they play a completely different style of rugby. It gives you a real good challenge to test your skills against them and see where you stand and also to see what you can learn.”

“A lot of the guys in the Aussie team we played against have gone on to become NRL and full Australian international players. That just shows you that these guys really are the best players Australia has to offer and to go up against them at that age is a real boost for the English players.

“I can remember when we played against Israel Folau. He was a physical freak at that time. He was such a massive kid who was just able to bounce players off him with ease, it was insane to watch.  But in one of the games, an English player ran around him easily and scored, which showed us that we had the ability and that there was nothing to be afraid of.

“They’re definitely good players but they can be beaten just like every other team.”

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