SHEFFIELD Eagles are hoping that forwards Peter Green and Mitch Stringer will be fit for tonight’s game at Featherstone Rovers, writes James Collins.
Former Doncaster back rower Green, who played every game last season, injured a wrist in training and prop forward Stringer has been struggling with a virus.
Both face late fitness tests ahead of the clash at the Big Fellas Stadium (kick-off 6pm) - a repeat of last season’s Championship Grand Final that Featherstone won 40-4.
A win is crucial for Eagles, who lost their seven-game unbeaten record in the 50-18 defeat by Halifax last week.
Coach Mark Aston said: “We’re checking on Peter and Mitch and it would be a blow if they are both out. It’s always a tough game at Rovers and you want your big players but we have a strong squad and we can cover.”
He added: “Rovers have been the outstanding team in the last two years and the Grand Final defeat still hurts.
“We’ve been tough on ourselves after the Halifax game and we’ll have to be a lot better and a lot tougher mentally at Rovers.”
Aston is likely to bring in back row Sam Scott and prop Ryan Hepworth if Green or Stringer are not fit. Centre or back rower Duane Straugheir may also stake a claim.
Featherstone are unbeaten in their three league games this season but coach Daryl Powell says the team was under par in their 24-12 win at Dewsbury last Sunday.
“Sheffield have looked strong when I’ve watched them and have threats all over the field,” said ex-Eagle Powell.
“They’re a good team and they’ll cause us some trouble. We’ll need to be 30 per cent better with the ball to open them up and we’ll need to be just as tough defensively.”
Aston is looking for a much stronger defensive performance, for the forwards to control possession and for the team to be sharper around the ruck.
Hooker Andrew Henderson and half-backs Simon Brown and Dominic Brambani could decide the game in their battle with Rovers’ playmakers.
DID YOU KNOW? Eagles were the last team to win in the Championship at the Big Fellas Stadium, beating Featherstone 32-30 in August 2010.