Aston hits out at Crusaders' push for top

SHEFFIELD Eagles boss Mark Aston has hit out at the way newly-promoted Celtic Crusa ders are being 'pushed' towards the Super League.

It means the Eagles will face an extra hurdle as they bid to consolidate their position in the Co-operative National League One.

The Eagles were the shock side in the division last season - becoming the first promoted club to make the top-six play-offs. That achievement was rewarded when Aston was named Co-operative National League One Coach of the Year this week.

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The Crusaders may be based in South Wales but they have been given permission to bring in 'extra' overseas players.

"It'll get tougher next year. The rugby league will make it more difficult for us because Celtic Crusaders will be in the division with eight or 10Australians in the side," said Aston.

"And it won't be Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck - it won't be anyone from the outback but good Australians."

With the rugby league set to go to a 14 team Super League and have a franchise system in 2009, the battle for the Eagles to regain a place in the top flight is getting harder.

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Executive chairman of the rugby league Richard Lewis favours one of the two extra franchise clubs coming from South Wales with the other from France.

The Crusaders have already signed North Queensland Cowboys half-back Josh Hannay who was playing State of Origin rugby last season.

He is being followed by two more Australians Luke Dyer and Mark Lennon who spent last season at Super League Hull KR.

The Eagles operate on possibly the lowest budget in the First Division and have concentrated on developing young players.

"It not a level playing field - we're going to have to battle against a full-time squad which has been given lots of advantages," said Aston.

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