FORWARD Liam Higgins is set to be recalled to Sheffield Eagles’ team for the opening Co-operative Championship game against newly-promoted Swinton Lions.
Higgins sat out the win over York Knights but with Alex Rowe playing for the reserves last night can expect to either start or be on the bench.
Former Wakefield and Hull FC prop Higgins’ return could be the only change as Aston seeks a winning start in the league at Don Valley Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).
He said: “It’s important to keep the momentum going and there’s not going to be much messing about with the squad. We have a squad that’s strong and players need to stand up and be counted.”
Aston decided that Rowe lacked match fitness after recovering from a broken arm last season. Utility back Scott Turner, who dislocated a finger three weeks ago, also played in the second string at Oldham
“We had a look at Alex Rowe last week against York and for 10 minutes he looked strong but the fuse died out pretty quickly,” he said. “We had a chat and Alex agreed he needed 50 or 60 minutes in the reserves.”
The Eagles go into the first of 18 Championship rounds as the form team – unbeaten in the Northern Rail Cup – and are rated with Featherstone, Halifax and Leigh as favourites to reach the Grand Final.
Swinton were runaway winners of Championship One last season but struggled in the Rail Cup with only one win from four games.
Hooker Mark Smith and veteran half-back Ian Watson will be a danger plus centre Tom Armstrong who opted to leave St Helens to combine playing with university studies. The pack has experience in David Mills and Andy Gorski.
Aston admits the Lions are an “unknown quantity” but adds a warning: “A lot of people might write Swinton off but I’ve monitored the squad and they have brought in some quality players.”
Eagles fans can enjoy all the fun of the fair before the kick-off with rodeo bull rides, a bouncy castle, crane lifts and lots more on offer as the club launches a campaign to bring families to games and boost attendances.