SHEFFIELD EAGLES: Mark Aston cool on French trip

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SHEFFIELD Eagles coach Mark Aston has cast doubt over the value of his team playing a ‘goodwill’ game in France only five days before a crucial Championship clash.

Eagles face top French Elite club Carcassone in the Anglo-French Challenge competition on Saturday night.

They fly back early on Sunday and four days later play a tough game at Leigh Centurions who are only one point behind them in the league.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful but what is the Anglo-French Cup for,” said Aston about the competition that comes at the mid-point in the UK season but two weeks after the end of the French league.

“I have no idea why the RFL have put this game mid-season, why we are playing it or anything.

“It probably is being done as a goodwill gesture to the French Rugby League. It is a considerable cost to the RFL sending us over there.”

Aston will take a 19-strong squad but will leave behind several key forwards. It will mean game time for players who have sat out recent games and young reserves against the French Cup and League winners.

“I would prefer not to play,” he said. “We should be thinking about fewer games not more – getting quality not quantity. These are part-time players and extra games is a bigger strain on them.

“At least we will have some young players introduced to the first team environment and get a group of players together for a few days.

“We’ll go out there to win and do ourselves proud but the big picture is next Thursday night at Leigh Centurions, which is a massive game. We need to win at Leigh because it’s very close at the top of the Championship.”