Rugby League: Sheffield Eagles boss digging deep to get most out of his team

Sheffield Eagles chief Mark Aston knows he’ll need to utilise every inch of his squad as he prepares for a testing period over the next three weeks.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 2:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 10:48 pm
Sheffeld Eagles Aaron Brown in action during the Betfred Championship Summer Bash match at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool. Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

The Eagles face a tough ask at home to league leaders Toronto Wolfpack on Friday night, with a rearranged game at Widnes, an 1895 Cup clash with Halifax and another home game against improving Featherstone all in quick succession.

Aston could have done without losing the services of injured duo Matty James and James Glover, whilst Rory Dixon has been loaned out to League One Hunslet, with the Eagles unable to recall the youngster during his initial 28-day stay.

Aston had to ask his forwards to produce some lengthy stints in the victory over Barrow, and he knows without the services of James and Dixon, he must try and rotate over the coming weeks to avoid burning out some of his key performers.

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“I thought our middles were great against Barrow,” Aston told The Star.

“The big fellas were outstanding because we were busted up and we had to shift people around. Aaron Brown had to fill in at centre, and Brad Knowles had to play big minutes for me and he did. He probably played his best game for a while, and he came to the fore after we lost a couple of players to injury.”

Aston knows Jason Crookes’ timely return from a shoulder injury should compensate for the loss of Glover, whilst hooker James Davey is also back following a one-match suspension.

Youngsters Blake Broadbent and Paddy Burns have been rested in recent weeks, whilst Shaun Pick has also waited patiently for another opportunity – all of which can expect some game time in the coming glut of fixtures.

Whilst options in personnel may have been reduced, the win has lifted spirits following back-to-back losses, with Aston pleased to see his side lay the ghosts of their late capitulation at Leigh to bed, after comfortably avoiding a repeat at the Bash.

He added: “The challenge in the last 20 minutes was to ensure we had learned something from the Leigh experience, and whilst we let a couple of tries in at the end, I thought the game by that time had been won.

“If we can kick on now, then we'll be fighting and scrapping to try and achieve something this season. We go into this Toronto game knowing we can push them, and to challenge them.”