Young half-back Cory Aston is the wild card that’s adding a competitive edge to a key area of Sheffield Eagles’ team.
The 19-year-old son of coach Mark has forced his way into the starting line-up for the past three games.
It saw the established pairing of Dominic Brambani and Patch Walker broken up but they’ve responded and now it’s ‘third man’ Cory who’s under pressure.
“It works both ways” said Aston Jr. “I put pressure on them as I want their spot but they put pressure on me. If I’m in the team they try to get my place.”
Aston was substituted when Eagles lost the lead in the second half at Dewsbury and with the Brambani-Walker partnership restored the Eagles came back to win.
That’s set Aston Snr a selection poser ahead of the game against Keighley Cougars (Owlerton, Sunday, 2pm).
He said: “Cory’s done three weeks against Dewsbury, Whitehaven and Workington; all physical teams. Maybe it’s time for Cory to sit back now – Patch back to six? I don’t know - we’ll look at that.”
It sets another challenge for Aston Jr but he’s already battled back after being injured in his first game of the season and sidelined for two months. The teenager is tall but not as chunky as his father whose nickname from his playing days is ‘Tubby’. That’s seen opposing teams test him but he’s stood up well.
“It must be the name on the back of the shirt,” said Aston Jr. “I get targeted but I’ve been pretty strong defensively, it’s been one of the best aspects of my game.”
Eagles have the chance to win three straight league games for the first time this season against Keighley who they beat 42-24 earlier in the year.
Keighley will be without player-coach Paul March who is serving a two-month ‘stadium ban’ for comments made to a referee.
The Eagles boss said: “Keighley have done well and adapted to the loss of the coach. They reached the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup. There are no guarantees what you’ll get with Keighley – they are big and tough with pace and will give us a game.”