SHEFFIELD Eagles coach Mark Aston is counting on the lure of a Grand Final to help his battered players overcome a swift turnaround before they face Leigh Centurions.
The Eagles have little time to recover before they travel to Leigh for Thursday’s semi-final which will decide if they make a second successive final.
“We’ve done it, been there,” said Aston after crushing Halifax 54-12 in the second round.
“It’s about mental toughness at this time, we don’t want the season to end. We’re through to a semi-final and we have a big task against a committed, strong Leigh team.”
The club’s medical staff will be busy with the club’s top try scorer Quentin Laulu-Togagae plus forwards Jack Howieson and Joe Hirst all carrying knee injuries that will need surgery at the end of the season. Winger Misi Taulalapa is another who is playing through the pain with a shoulder injury.
Aston added: “A few lads are battered and bruised but when it comes to play-off rugby and you get to a semi-final the lads are patched up and want to get out there.”
Thursday’s game is a repeat of last season’s semi when the Eagles went to Leigh and became the first team out of the top two to make the final.
Again the odds are stacked against the Eagles who have played two bruising knockout rounds.
Leigh because they finished second have played only one game – the qualification semi-final defeat at Featherstone Rovers. They get a second chance to make the final and will have had a week to recover.
Aston added: “We’re in the same position as we were last year. But we’re hardened, we know what needs to be done.”