NO ONE in the Doncaster side will want to clip Sheffield Eagles’ wings in Sunday’s pre-season friendly at the Keepmoat Stadium more than Grant Edwards.
Edwards joined the Dons from Eagles, where he played in just over 50 games, two years ago and will be playing against his old club for the first time since checking in at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“There are still a few players at the club from when I was there and I still keep in touch with one or two of them such as Mitch Stringer and I look forward to seeing them on Sunday,” said Edwards..
Since the South Yorkshire rivals agreed the warm-up game, they have been drawn in the same Northern Rail Cup group with the Dons again having home advantage.
But Edwards predicts that neither side will be holding anything back despite the fact that it is a friendly - though the two teams will also be playing for the South Yorkshire Cup as they always do in their first meeting of the season. .
“There is no such thing as a friendly whenever Doncaster and Sheffield meet for me and we aren’t treating it as one,” said Edwards. “We are going to try and win the game.”
With new signing Paul Cooke still several weeks away from being fit enough to play following his long break from the game, Edwards played at stand-off in Sunday’s 26-12 win over Hunslet in the club’s first friendly of the season.
“I’ve not played there for a while and I see myself more of a loose-forward these days, but I’m happy to play wherever Tony (Miller) wants me to play,” he said.
“It was a very good result and it blew a few cobwebs away. It was our first game and their third,
“We just wanted to get the season off to a positive start, which we did, but we aren’t going to get carried away by the result.
“I think everyone got good game-time and one or two players, including myself, played the full game.
“The forwards went well and winger Tom Hodson scored a good try in the first half and looked quick and sharp.”
Although Edwards, who missed nearly all of his first season after joining the Dons following a serious knee injury, will be pulling out all the stops to try and beat the Eagles, he still has a lot of respect for Mark Aston’s side.
“Sheffield did really well last year, reaching the Championship Play-Off final, and they are building a good squad,” he said.
“With the two teams meeting in the Northern Rail Cup whoever wins on Sunday will probably have a psychological advantage going into that game, but we are not really thinking about that.
“We just want to keep the momentum going from the Hunslet game and make sure that we are doing everything right and not worry about what Sheffield are going to do or anything.
“We dropped a few balls on Sunday, which we’ve worked on in training this week, but you are always going to make those sort of mistakes at this time of the year.
“Really the three pre-season games are all about building up our match fitness and starting to gel as a team.
“There have been quite a few changes from last season and we’ve got quite a few new faces in the squad.
“We’ve signed young hooker Nathan Powley from Hull KR and he’s really sharp in training and he looked sharp around the ruck area on Sunday.
“We try to get a quick play-the-ball so we can get the ball out quickly to the backs and we’ve now got three hookers in the squad who can do that.
“We are taking the Northern Rail Cup just as seriously as we will be the league, though obviously our top target is to get promotion back to the Championship and we are going to try and build so that we peak at the right time of the season.
“We’ve got three Championship teams, Sheffield, York and Hunslet, in our group, along with Gateshead, so we know it’s going to be tough, but the idea is to make it through to the quarter finals.
“I think the fact that we beat Hunslet will give us a boost when we go there.
“We are hoping to attract bigger gates next season and that won’t happen unless we play well from the start and win games in the Northern Rail Cup.”