SHEFFIELD Eagles reach a key stage in their pre-season programme as they fly out to France today for a friendly game against Limoux.
After a two-day training camp, coach Mark Aston will see his new squad in match action for the first time on Saturday.
“I’m not a big fan of pre-season ‘friendlies’ but this gives us a chance to get the lads together for a couple of days training before we play Limoux,” said Aston.
“It’ll be a good hit out. Limoux are big and strong, they’ve a couple of lads who have played Super League. Their pitch will be muddy; if it was dry we would like to think we could run them about but it’s tight and they will be physical.”
With a tough trip to Halifax to open the Championship programme in two weeks time, Aston can be expected to start with his likely first choice line up.
It will see new signing Patch Walker renew the half-back partnership he had at Dewsbury with Dominic Brambani.
The other new signings centre Matt Garside, hooker James Davey and forward Colton Roche are also in the party.
Centre Tom Armstrong, signed from Swinton Lions, can’t make the trip because of university exams while Quentin Laulu-Togagae is recovering from a knee operation. Dane McDonald is sidelined through injury with Alex Szostak and Liam Higgins out because of work commitments.
The squad of 27 players includes four reserves and three teenagers from the Academy. A trialist back is also set to make the trip to south-west France.
Aston said: “This is a big part of our preparation for the league. The starting team will be similar to what we’re thinking about for Halifax but there are people missing who you would think would be regulars.”
The game will seal an alliance agreed between the two clubs last year which will see Eagles reserve players loaned to the French Elite club in the future.
Limoux slipped below mid-point in the league after a 16-12 home defeat to Carcassone last weekend.