SHEFFIELD Eagles will have no problem covering for the loss of prop forward Liam Higgins, says coach Mark Aston.
The glamour of playing in the Super League saw Higgins join Wakefield Trinity Wildcats this week after playing eight games for the Eagles.
A first test for the Eagles forwards will come against last season’s Grand Final winner Halifax at Bramall Lane on Sunday (3pm).
“It’s no problem,” said Aston. “We’ve still got plenty of big fellas. Up front Halifax are big and strong but we have a pack that can compete with any team. It’s a challenge but we’ll be ready.” Club captain Jack Howieson, if he passes a late test on a groin strain, is set to come in for Higgins.
With Mitch Stringer as the other starting prop it will mean a return to a front row that has served the Eagles well in recent seasons. Backing them up off the bench will be Alex Rowe and Ryan Hepworth. Higgins’ departure opens the way for prop Eddie Battye who has impressed with his combative style in his three first team games.
Halifax will be out to make a point after their bid to play in Super League failed yesterday. The Rugby Football League awarded the ‘licence’ to Widnes Vikings. Halifax did meet the criteria and will have a second chance to challenge the existing Super League clubs when their franchises come up for renewal later in the year.
It will add an element to a game in which the Eagles go seeking revenge for a hat-trick of defeats last year. Fax did the double in the Championship and crushed the Eagles 44-16 in the play-off semi-final.
A danger man for Fax will be their former Eagles’ winger Rob Worrincy who is on a run of 14 tries in his last 11 games. Sam Barlow makes his first return to Sheffield. Legal action was threatened last season when Fax played Barlow in the play-off semi-final following his move to his hometown club. It ended in an apology by Halifax and compensation – but Barlow scored one of the tries that ended Eagles hopes of making the Grand Final.”