Aston gets to grips with new format

Mark Aston
Mark Aston
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As the Super 8 format comes to a close, Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston believes that the new promotion/relegation format is set to stay.

The Eagles ended their Super 8 Qualifiers campaign with two victories in the inaugural season of the new format.

Despite early misgivings from the Eagles’ chief, Aston admits the system looks likely to remain, and he is now focused on building a side to make a bigger splash in the end of season showdown for 2016.

“I am sure it will be here for the next few years, and we have got our heads round it now, we now need to build a squad that can compete in it,” he told The Star.

“I was sceptical at the beginning because I didn’t think it was a level playing field with the extra money advantage that the Super League sides had.

“We learnt very early what it was all about, and we saw the standards from the likes of Widnes, but we got up to speed and adapted to it. I think anyone who watched us against Salford, Hull KR and Wakefield will tell you that we are very close.”

Despite the apparent gulf in the top two divisions, the Kingstone Press Championhsip clubs did enjoy limited success over Super League opposition, with Aston believing the gap continues to narrow.

He added: “We know what the standard is now and the players here next season will be working hard in a full-time environment to try and close that gap, which is probably not as wide as some people think.”