Sculthorpe excited by Eastmond-Long battle

Rugby League fans are being urged not to miss the enticing showdown between the Engage Super League sorcerer and his former apprentice when St Helens and Hull FC meet at GPW Recruitment Stadium on Saturday night (6.00pm).

The Engage Super League match at Knowsley Road will see Kyle Eastmond go head to head with his predecessor in the St Helens No 7 shirt for the first time since Sean Long left the club to join Hull FC at the end of last season.

In an ironic twist of fate, the opening round of the 2010 season sees Hull FC’s newly-appointed captain Long, a four-time Grand Final winner with Saints, make an immediate return to his old stomping ground to go up against his long-time understudy.

And for former St Helens and England legend Paul Sculthorpe, the duel promises to be one of the highlights of the sporting year.

“It’s going to be a cracking night, I can’t wait to see how Kyle and ‘Longy’ cope with each other,” said Sculthorpe, who is now a member of the backroom staff at St Helens.

“Kyle is the main man at Saints now, he’s the player who runs the team and that’s what ‘Longy’ did when he was here.

“Nothing fazes Kyle and I think he’ll take the extra pressure in his stride, both this weekend and throughout the season.

“‘Longy’ has enough big match experience to cope with whatever is thrown at him and I reckon the change will do him good. Giving him the captaincy was an inspired move by Hull.

“The whole of St Helens has been buzzing with talk of the match and seeing those two play against each other. We’re expecting a massive crowd and the atmosphere is going to be electric.”

Eastmond came of age last autumn when he made a seamless transition into the England team during the Gillette Four Nations and the 20-year-old is widely regarded as one of the most exciting players in Engage Super League.

“Kyle has massive potential but the scary thing is he’s not the only one. There are some amazing young players at every Super League club in 2010,” said Sculthorpe.

“At Saints we have high hopes for people like Jacob Emmitt, Sean Magennis and Matty Ashurst but the one player, for me, who stands ready to make the breakthrough is Gary Wheeler.

“Gary’s not had a lot of luck with injuries but he’s still only 20 and on his day he has all the ability in the world. If he stays fit I can see him being one of the players knocking on the door for international selection at the end of the year.”

Tickets for St Helens v Hull at GPW Recruitment Stadium on Saturday night can be purchased from the stadium, the Saints Superstore in the town centre, by calling the St Helens Ticket Hotline on 01744 455 050 or by visiting www.saintssuperstore.com

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