Keeping players fresh is key for Sheffield Eagles

Mark Aston believes striking the right balance with the fitness of key squad members was fundamental in Sheffield Eagles’ Easter back-to-back victories.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 9:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 9:39 am

Aston thrust several fringe players into the Championship cauldron against Toulouse, after being unable to fall back on dual-registration. The likes of Sonny Esslemont, Rory Dixon, Blake Broadbent and Shaun Pick all came to the fore in their sensational victory, as the Eagles chief rested regulars James Davey and Brad Knowles.

Knowles and Davey were reintroduced three days later, alongside Ben Hellewell from London, to give his side freshness at Rochdale.

Aston also used their dominant position at Spotland to save the legs of the ever-present Joel Farrell, as he keeps something in the tank for the visit of Halifax on Sunday.

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Aston said: “Ben is a quality centre. He really adds something. Jimmy adds tempo and speed. We also brought Brad back in and he is someone who can get on the front foot. We had players coming back into the side that were fresh. That was important.

“Matty James started on the bench, to give him a break too.

“We had the luxury of taking Joel Farrell off after 40 minutes to rest him, because he has done 80 minutes most weeks. We managed to get plenty of players freshened up which was also pleasing going into another big week.”

Aston has options available again, after being down to the bare bones recently which showed up during the Challenge Cup exit against Leigh.

The addition of Pat Moran on loan from Warrington, plus help on dual-registration from London has provided a huge boost to Aston.

There could be more good news as centre Jason Crookes is firmly on the comeback trail, with Aston confirming he is running again as he looks to recover from a shoulder problem.

He continued: “He has been training, he has been running again so he is ticking over. We are waiting to see what the doctors are saying now, so we are hopeful. We want him back, we have sent Menzie Yere and Lewis Taylor out on loan because they need game time, so when we haven't had Ben Hellewell, we have been a bit thin on the ground in that area.”