Skipper Matty James says he's feeling the benefits of shared leadership responsibilities following Sheffield Eagles’ electric start to the Betfred Championship campaign.
James has helped guide the Eagles to three wins from three, which includes the comeback victory over highly-fancied Bradford Bulls last week.
James, one of a five man senior group panel installed by director of rugby Mark Aston during pre-season, has been one of few shining lights over a tough couple of seasons for the Eagles.
Taking the armband into a third consecutive season, James has been one of Aston’s most trusted generals, often leading from the front during some dark days in recent years.
But James now has a support network around him with the signings of some of The Championship’s more experienced heads, allowing the 31-year-old the chance to share the on-field responsibilities.
James said: “When Patch (Pat Walker), Thacks (Anthony Thackeray) and people like that come through the door, it does free me up more. I can concentrate fully on my role as a prop this year which is to keep this team going forward, and getting us on the front foot. When I am not having to worry too much about the tactics and the game plan because of the others around me, I can just do my job and everyone else can work off the other experienced guys around the group.”
Alongside big-spending Toronto Wolfpack, the Eagles are one of two sides that can still boast a 100% record after three rounds of the Championship campaign.
Aston’s side have bucked a recent trend which has seen the Eagles slow out of the blocks in recent seasons.
A wave of optimism following an impressive close season recruitment drive has spilled into the start of the campaign, which has seen the Eagles show grit and determination to win two close encounters with Barrow and Bradford.
With Widnes away next on the menu, James knows the Eagles are set for their biggest test yet.
He added: “If we can tighten our skills up and deliver the plays, I think that we can compete with anyone. Obviously there are some tough games out there, and Widnes away is probably the toughest of the lot. We can fly under the radar here though, and go there to give it all we have got. We'll work hard in training this week and go there to try and get a result.”