Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston says he has already seen signs of the competitive edge he is looking for next season, as he presents an enticing incentive to his new-look squad.
Aston has brought his troops in early for pre-season training as he looks to foster a togetherness which he says has been missing in recent seasons.
Building a dressing room culture akin to the one which helped to bring back-to-back Grand Final success in 2012 and 2013 is Aston’s mission, as he looks to mould a squad capable of combatting next season’s new-look 14-team Championship.
Now in week two of a pre-season training camp, Aston has wasted no time in implementing his methods, and he has used one particular enticement to help build team spirit and breed some early competitiveness amongst the ranks.
“I want them all to become leaders, and I want them to write the script next season,” Aston told The Star.
“We have set four groups up within the squad, and we have made it a competition.
“It will be quite competitive, because I have dangled a little bit of a carrot to them.
“The group that is winning on points coming into the Christmas period, will get a week away from the club. You can imagine they are all scrapping like mad to be the team with the most points!”
Aston and his staff have implemented an in-house points system for their team to follow, with the aim of nurturing the dressing room culture which is fundamental to his plans of avoiding last season’s struggles.
Often lamenting his side’s lack of mental fortitude, Aston wants to create a hardened group of individuals who will show an ability to come back from difficult periods during games, and he believes the ground work must be achieved now if they are to meet his high standards.
“They lose points for things like forgetting their water bottle, if they are late, if they don't fetch their forms in - anything like that. It helps improve every aspect,” he added.
“The team with the most points have that reward. It just breeds that competitiveness and togetherness – they want to get the best out of each other. We had some really good meetings recently and we are on it. They are talking about changing the culture, they want to be the pride of Sheffield Eagles and they are showing it.”