Director of rugby Mark Aston has admitted he is switching his attention away from the top four as he looks to get Sheffield Eagles’ season back on track.
The Eagles chief has given the armband to Australian Steve Thorpe, as he looks to make an internal reshuffle in a bid to get the Eagles’ stuttering season back on track.
Michael Knowles has also been axed as vice-captain with full-back Quentin Laulu-Togagae taking up the post.
Aston has been vocal regarding the contribution of some of his senior professionals this season, and the decision to change the captaincy is a sure fire sign that the 48-year-old is looking to shake things up.
“It’s no surprise that everyone associated with Sheffield Eagles are disappointed with our season so far,” Aston said. “We are in a hole at the moment and myself and the backroom team are trying to help lift the performances of all the players to get out of this hole. I believe this decision will help with this.”
Thorpe was last season’s Player of the Year and will be a popular choice in the dressing room, whilst Laulu-Togagae has been with the club for over five years.
Whether the changes signal an upward trend in results remain to be seen, but the decision is yet another sign of Aston’s dissatisfaction with his side’s progress this year.
Aston is a huge admirer of Thorpe’s abilities, and believes he has shown the mental strength required to lead after battling back in double quick time from a serious leg break in the middle eight clash with Widnes Vikings last season. He added:
“It gives us a new, different direction in terms of leadership, both on and off the field.
“Steve had a great opening season last year with the club before he broke his leg against Widnes in the Super 8’s. He won a number of awards at our end of season awards evening and is a natural leader.
“I’m confident Steve and QLT will fully embrace the added responsibility and help motivate the squad. A place in the top four is still not out of the question and we will continue to work towards achieving that.
“The move allows Michael and Mitch to focus on their individual performances and takes away that extra, added pressure and anxiety that can come with being a captain or vice-captain.”
The Eagles host Bradford at Bawtry Road tomorrow, kick off 7.45pm.