Kyle Eastmond has returned to rugby league with Leeds Rhinos

Ex-England centre Kyle Eastmond makes code switch to Leeds Rhinos

Kyle Eastmond has secured a return to rugby league eight months after his contract at Leicester Tigers expired.

Capped under Stuart Lancaster with England, Eastmond’s time in union spanned nine years in separate stints at Bath, Wasps and Leicester.

Last summer, amid wage cuts agreed to between Premiership clubs and the RPA and salary cap reform, Eastmond was among five Tigers players – Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veainu, Noel Reid and Greg Bateman – to reject changes to their contracts and opt to depart.

And while Tuilagi joined Sale, Veainu and Reid made the switch to the Top 14, and Bateman moved to the Dragons, Eastmond’s next move had remained unknown.

But the former St Helens star has agreed to a reunion with former teammate and coach Sean Long at Leeds Rhinos, having signed a two-year deal, where Long is an assistant coach after leaving Harlequins.

“I am excited to be coming back to rugby league,” he said. “Just like the timing was right for me when I went to rugby union, I think the time is right for me to come back to league now.

“I was coached by Richard Agar when I was younger and obviously played alongside Sean Long at Saints.

“This move is about me playing my very best rugby and I think this environment, and this group of staff and players, gives me confidence that I can do that.

“If I’m happy and in the right environment then that means I can play at my best and I think that is what is going to happen.”

Eastmond was capped six times by England, starting three times against the All Blacks on England’s tour of New Zealand in 2014.

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