Sheffield Eagles: Dilemma for Mark Aston ahead of Batley test

Mark Aston
Mark Aston
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Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston will carefully assess his squad ahead tomorrow’s clash with Batley, as he looks to keep his troops fresh for the Championship Shield semi-final.

Aston made changes to his side for the victory over Rochdale last weekend, with a number of younger members in his ranks given a chance to impress.

With this Sunday’s encounter a dead rubber ahead of the semi-final, Aston wouldn’t be blamed for resting some of his star performers.

But the Eagles chief is faced with a dilemma, acknowledging that inconsistencies in recent weeks have left him pondering his best 17: “Do we know our best side? That’s the question isn’t it?” he admitted to The Star.

“There is a thought process that by picking a strong team it helps us get a bit of rhythm, momentum and if we play well, some confidence.

“There is also the question if someone is struggling do we leave them out and have them fresh for the semi-final. They are the decisions that I will be making. It won’t be easy.”

Aston admitted that a long season has taken its toll on some members of his squad. Along with his staff, the 49-year-old has kept a close eye on his troops on the training ground, as he looks to plot the best course of selection before the all important knockout stages

“We look, and we’ll continue to look, at where the lads are in training,” he continued.

“It is the end of the season and after 30 odd games I need to look to see if any of them are looking a little jaded, knowing there is a big semi-final on the horizon.

“We have noticed that in previous weeks with one or two. Young Greg Burns was struggling, we have taken him out to freshen him up, now we need to decide whether to put him back in again.

“They are the big decisions that we as coaches have to make and try to get right. We will have a look at what they are like in the lead up to the game.”

One player who will be coming under close scrutiny is versatile operator Elliot Minchella, with Aston confirming a knee problem stopped him training at the start of the week.

“Decisions will be made late. Elliot has a bang on his knee and couldn’t run at the start of the week, so we are keeping a close eye on him.