Moving to the Olympic Legacy Park will be critical to any plans of rebuilding Sheffield Eagles’ Academy and reserve team structure, says director of rugby Mark Aston.
The Eagles shelved their reserve team last week after confirming they had failed in a bid to secure tier two Academy status from the RFL.
The news comes as a bitter blow to Aston, who has never hid his desire of one day fielding a team consisting of locally produced players. The Eagles boss says that moving into the planned new stadium is now crucial for his plans to reignite the club’s production line, which has played a major role in the development of a clutch of youngsters, including Aston’s son Cory.
“It is massive,” Aston stressed to The Star.
“The fact of the matter is that you need a home and a base. We’ve never really had that, so it will be massive for us to finally have it. The good thing is that there will be a college down there which will help us grow an Academy to eventually help us bring through our own again. What I do know is that there are plenty of kids around Sheffield that have potential. Nothing has changed, we still want to give them the opportunity.”
Whilst there is no cast iron guarantee, the Eagles remain confident that they can be housed in their new surroundings for the start of the 2017 season.
The new facility, which is set to get the green light imminently, includes a University Technical College, which specialises in part to sport.
The plans look promising, but the present situation has caused alarm amongst the rank and file of Eagles supporters.
Aston confirmed that he was ‘gutted’ at the decision, admitting that the Eagles were left with little option but to halt their production line.
“People will be upset that it looks to have been left to the last minute, but you have to understand that a decision like this doesn’t happen instantly,” he said.
“It takes time, and we have looked into several ways where we could continue, but the sustainability of player production just wasn’t there.
“We have to be positive, we need to get our heads down and rebuild it. We are fortunate because we have grassroots clubs in the area that still want to work with us, and we need to continue to support them.”