St.Helens new coach, Royce Simmons, is becoming visibly more frustrated by the ongoing Kyle Eastmond soap-opera. And after last-night’s shoddy performance by his team, in which Eastmond was a non-factor – a passenger – he has every right to demand a decision.
Eastmond’s team mates may also feel they’re owed an apology after the half back displayed lamentable judgement and team spirit by leaving the field directly at the end of the game leaving the rest of the team to salute the crowd. It was the most visible example of a schism between the player and his colleagues. Who knows what is going on in the background; Eastmond was seen ranting at (or about) Ade Gardner when the winger failed to reel in a fading long pass around his shins from the half back.
In his post-game press conference Simmons stated (source: Sporting Life):
I don’t know what the decision is going to be but everyone is pushing hard now for it to happen. I don’t want to go into next week’s game worrying about whether a player is staying or going.
Leaving aside the probability that the decision is in doubt, or that Simmons really doesn’t know, the ball is NOT in Eastmond’s court.
My issue with this is not that Eastmond is (likely) going to make a career decision based on his own needs and aspiration. My issue is that the club and coach have allowed that decision to hijack the start of their season. Whatever happened to the mantra: “No one is bigger than the club”?
The truth is the ball is entirely in the club’s hands and specifically in the hands of coach Simmons.
Eastmond is clearly totally distracted by the whole affair and ought to be benched until the outcome is known. At that point an assessment can be made as to whether he plays out the remainder of his contract in League, or takes an early Bath (sorry couldn’t resist it).
That’s not personal. That is a purely football and business based decision based on the performances of the player and of the saga’s debilitating impact on his teammates.
After the cascade of booing that followed the game Friday, it’s also in the best interest of everyone, player, club and disappointed fans.
Bench him till it’s sorted.