Junior brigade gets the nod from Aston

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YOUNG players with less than a handful of senior games between them are likely to get a call-up as Sheffield Eagles open their season.

Coach Mark Aston could bring in up to four rookies for the trip to Gateshead Thunder on Sunday. Norfolk Park teenager Corey Hanson is likely to be paired with Papua New Guinea international star Menzie Yere in the centres – only his second first team game.

Jamie Cottle will get the nod for his second start at fullback with a third Hallam University student may Pat Smith get a chance as half-back or hooker cover off the bench. Prop Eddie Battye, from Oxpring, who made his only first team appearance at the end of the 2009 season, is also pushing for a chance.

Aston needs to give the youngsters game-time but his hand has been forced by delays in the arrival of Samoan internationals Misi Taulapapa and new signing Quentin Laulu-Togagae arriving in the UK. “I have been very impressed with the young lads who have come into the squad. I’m delighted because it shows natural progress from within our structure” said Aston. “Misi and Quentin should be here in the next few weeks but it gives people the opportunity to stake a claim for a first team shirt.”

The trip to Gateshead is the first of four Northern Rail Cup group games that kick-off the season. The Eagles meet another Division Two team Whitehaven in the second round - their first home game at Don Valley, on Sunday week.

Aston will rely on the experience and power of his forward pack to dominate a Gateshead team that finished bottom of the professional leagues last season winning only one game and conceding a massive 1232 points. Doncaster-based prop Liam Higgins will add to that forward power if he is given his debut after the move from Castleford Tigers. Back rower Peter Green could be facing his brother Wayne who joined the Thunder this season.

The pair played together for Doncaster.