Sheffield Eagles founder Gary Hetherington has sent a message of support as the club returns to the stadium where it all began 30 years ago.
Hetherington brought pro rugby league to the city as player and owner before moving on to his role as chief executive of Leeds Rhinos. The Eagles kick-off the new season at Owlerton Stadium against Rochdale Hornets – the club who provide the opposition in that first historic game – on Sunday,(2pm.)
Hetherington is backing Eagles’ coach Mark Aston – who he signed as a player for the club – to lead the team to success.
“We had some memorable wins at Owlerton, notably against Chorley to secure promotion in 1989,” said Hetherington. “Mark has done a terrific job to develop the team into one of the best in the Championship; I hope things work out.”
Eagles beat Rochdale 29-10 in the first game but Hetherington, who played at hooker, can’t be at Owlerton on Sunday with Leeds at Hull KR.
He added: “I’ll be looking for the result on Sunday and I hope it’s a repeat of the one in 1984. Owlerton holds special memories for me, both on and off the pitch. I remember that first game and we came back from 10 nil down to win.”
Forward Eddie Battye has been rewarded for impressive performances by being given the number eight shirt for the new season. The jersey was left vacant after long-serving captain Jack Howieson retired early last year.
Squad numbers: 1 Quentin Laulu-Togagae. 2 Scott Turner 3 Menzie Yere. 4 Loto Tagaloa. 5 Misi Taulapapa. 6 Pat Walker. 7 Dominic Brambani. 8 Eddie Battye. 9 Andrew Henderson. 10 Mitch Stringer (capt). 11 Michael Knowles. 12 Peter Green. 13 Joe Hirst. 14 James Davey. 15 Matt Garside. 16 Duane Straugheir. 17 Ben Jones. 19 Cory Aston. 20 Connor Scott. 21 Jack Blagbrough. 22 Will Hope. 23 Jon Ford. 25 Corey Hanson. To be given numbers on first appearance: 28 Tom Ashton. 29 Alex Palmer. 30 Shaun Squires.