Rugby League: Sheffield Eagles coach looks for actions, not words

Mitch Stringer
Mitch Stringer
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Sheffield Eagles players were given time-off to reflect on their individual performance after the morale-sapping defeat by Leigh Centurions.

Coach Mark Aston delayed the return to training until last night after a performance that he said left him “embarrassed”.

“Some people are letting themselves down and that was a by-product of what has been turned out in the last six or eight weeks,” he said.

“There is a bit of soul searching, a bit of honesty needed and I’ve told the lads to go away and have a look at the man inside. It’s actions not words that are needed now.”

Approaching the half-way point in the season it may be too soon to ring the alarm bells but there are causes for concern.

The loss of key players like the injured Joe Hirst and the retirement of Liam Higgins and Alex Szostak has had an impact on the forwards ability to dominate possession.

Poor home league results since the move to Owlerton Stadium – only one win in five – have been a millstone. It’s mirrored by five wins away but defeat at Whitehaven on Sunday (kick-off 2pm) could drop to the edge of the relegation places.

Aston doesn’t see any demons in the switch to Owlerton and is demanding a collective ‘team’ response.

“It’s not about whether you are at home or away, it’s about the application and attitude,” he said.

“Too many people are trying to resolve the problem themselves but this is a team game and you resolve things collectively.

“You need to do things together and we’re not – people are doing what they want to do and that’s when things come crashing.”

All the failings were on show in the 54-12 defeat Championship leaders Leigh Centurions. Eagles went two tries down before they had touched the ball, struggled for possession and compounded that by poor decisions and handling errors.

Captain Mitch Stringer put in a big effort and tried to drag the team into the game but it was feeding on scraps with tries in either half from centre Leleuloto Tagaloa and winger Misi Taulapapa the only scores. Leigh exploited the weakness down the Eagles right flank with winger Liam Kay scoring four of their nine tries.

It’s left Aston pondering drafting in some of the younger players for the trip to Whitehaven although there’s unlikely to be wholesale changes.

He said: “We’ve got some great young kids who could set up but I can’t change all 17 and I will still need a nucleus of players who are going to have to front up.”

Brothers Theo and Arthur Gonzalez-Trique are to join the Eagles on a month’s trial from French league and cup winners Toulouse Olympique.