Planet Rugby

Bath defend criticised Eastmond

25th June 2014 12:41


kyle eastmond england new zealand

Under fire: Kyle Eastmond

Bath head coach Mike Ford has stuck up for England centre Kyle Eastmond following criticism over his defensive abilities.

Eastmond was withdrawn at half-time by England in last weekend's third Test against New Zealand, with the tourists trailing 29-6 after conceding four tries in the first half.

Plenty of fingers were pointed at Eastmond's role in the midfield despite a dazzling performance in the narrow first Test defeat.

"What happened in the first half of the final Test wasn't just one man's fault," Ford told the Bath Chronicle.

"As a former England defence coach, I know everyone had their own faults in that system. Kyle was unfortunate in that he was the one who was replaced at half-time.

"Kyle is a fantastic player and things like this make him stronger and hungrier to do even better."

Bath's England contingent performed well overall in New Zealand, with Rob Webber, Davey Wilson and Dave Attwood all doing their England chances no harm ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

"Rob has developed his reputation and has credit in the bank - I think he could be the first-choice hooker for England at the moment," added Ford.

"But who's picked for the Autumn Internationals will depend on who's playing the best club rugby come the end of October.

"Davey Wilson and Anthony Watson also had positive tours and had a chance to show what they can do.

"I feel a bit sorry for Dave Attwood in terms of the game time he had. I think he deserved to start that first Test given his form. That was a tough call on him.

"We've one hand behind our backs a bit with all the England players being away but it's great to have these players playing international rugby."

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