Eastmond: Saints will end on a high

Kyle Eastmond is pledging that St Helens will sign off on a high when they play their last ever Super League home derby against Wigan Warriors at GPW Recruitment Stadium on Good Friday.

Saints will move out of their home of the last 120 years at the end this season and Friday’s match will bring to an end a long tradition of famous battles with their biggest rivals.

The weight of history and expectation sits easily on the shoulders of St Helens starlet Eastmond, who is relishing the chance to get one over on Wigan in front of a 17,500-capacity crowd.

“This is a massive game, not just for the two teams but for the town of St Helens as well, and we’re all aware of what it means to everyone,” said Eastmond.

“Nobody wants to be part of a losing team in a derby but this one is extra special. We’re going to do all we can to get the win our fans deserve in the last derby at Knowsley Road.”

Both teams go into the derby in strong form with a number of mouth-watering personal duels set to light up a ground which Saints will leave behind to start life in a new state-of-the-art stadium from 2011.

The clash between Eastmond and Wigan stand-off Sam Tomkins will go a long way towards determining which club secures bragging rights and the St Helens half-back is looking forward to going up against his England team-mate.

“We’ve played against each other since we were kids and it’s always good to test myself against Sam. We usually bring out the best in each other,” said Eastmond.

“He’s an absolutely awesome player who’s going to be one of the greats. However Sam is not the only dangerous player in the Wigan ranks and we know we have to play the whole team, not just individuals.

“Sam and Thomas Leuluai are a good half-backs pairing and Amos Roberts is looking really dangerous at the moment so obviously we will have to keep a close eye on him.

“We have to concentrate and give them the respect they deserve.”

After impressing in his breakthrough year last season, Eastmond has found himself under close scrutiny in 2010 since being handed the St Helens No 7 jersey and the 20-year-old is hoping to be judged on his own merits.

“I’m not trying to fill anyone else’s boots,” said Eastmond. “To me, Sean Long is probably the greatest scrum-half to ever play Super League.

“I’m not trying to replace him at all because I think he’s irreplaceable. I’m just trying to carve out my own career and I hopefully can do that.”

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