Mark Aston is expecting to have PNG powerhouse Mark Mexico available for this Sunday’s Championship Shield semi-final dress rehearsal against Batley Bulldogs.
The Eagles director of rugby is keen to give his forward a run out after a spell on the sidelines with an elbow injury, and he could be given some vital game time at Mount Pleasant in preparation of the upcoming semi-final against the same opposition.
The former Newcastle ace had been earmarked for a return in last weekend’s victory over Rochdale, but Aston edged on the side of caution with Mexico, and fellow forward Will Hope.
“Mark should be back for Sunday,” Aston confirmed to The Star. “He could have potentially played last weekend but we decided against it.
“Will Hope was close last weekend too, but he was still sore so he could be back for Sunday as well. If they look good then we could potentially give them a hit out in preparation for the semi-final.
“There are a number of others knocking on the door. We obviously left out Simon Brown and Remy Marginet, we also left out Ben Blackmore. There are players that could come back into the group and get a chance this week.”
Batley have injury problems of their own with ex-Sheffield prop Tom Lillycrop fracturing a collarbone in their defeat at Toulouse, whilst second-rower Brad Day also looks to have had his season curtailed after a hamstring tear.”
Whilst the Bulldogs come into the game off the back of a heavy 56-14 defeat in the south of France, the Eagles by contrast ended their recent run of defeats with a late victory over Rochdale, something that Aston is looking to take confidence from.
“We certainly wasn’t at our best last weekend, but to get a win and stop the run of defeats was important to us,” he said.
“Hopefully the guys will get a bit of confidence from that and kick on because just around the corner there is another challenge. Batley have been a little bit inconsistent as well and I am very much still smarting from when they beat us at their place a few weeks ago, so there is something for us to aim for. Players are still playing for places, so we will be looking at them closely over the next couple of days in training.”
Kick off at Mount Pleasant this Sunday is 3pm.