Sheffield Eagles start afresh after funding shock

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Sheffield Eagles will begin the process of rebuilding the pathway to the professional ranks from the bottom up.

Eagles ditched their reserve team structure this week following their failure to attain funding from the RFL. Whilst they retain the links with a host of local community clubs, the disbanding of their reserve system has dashed the hopes of a number of youngsters, with one player already being snapped up by Super League team.

Community education and development director Ian Annis insists the club has laid down a blueprint for a future successful structure, though.

“We have drawn a line under what has gone on and are now working on our structure from the bottom,” he said. “We have been given assurances that if we moved forward with a coherent plan to the RFL then they will help us in securing future funding. We now need to make sure we come forward with a proposal that makes sense and is sustainable.”

Eagles have tapped into the expertise of ex-Wakefield player John Kain, who will play a vital role.

“John is a hugely experienced and has previously done a great job at Wakefield’s Academy,” Annis continued.

“Wakefield have one of the best reputations for producing players, and John was at the heart of that.

“We have had a terrible knock but we are already laying the foundations again. We have looked on the feedback we have received and we are looking to come back stronger.”

The key to the future development of players is a permanent home, and the ambition of being in the Olympic Legacy Park by next season is still realistic. If those plans come to fruition Annis hopes by 2018 that the club will tick the right boxes with the RFL to secure the valuable funding.

“The feedback we had was quite interesting,” he added.

“They weren’t saying that we weren’t capable of running things, they recognised the work we have done in bringing players through. They told us that there were only four organisations that can have the tier two status, and we weren’t seen as being in that top four.”