Patience will be key if Sheffield Eagles are to eventually bridge the gap between Rugby League’s top two divisions.
Despite sporadic success for lower league clubs this season, Eagles’ Director of Rugby Mark Aston believes the early rounds of the Super 8 Qualifiers have proved that there is still a chasm of quality between the Super League and the Championship.
Aston has witnessed first hand the gap in class after the Eagles defeat at Widnes last weekend, whilst fellow Championship clubs have also come unstuck against Super League opposition as the Super 8s enter the third round of fixtures this weekend.
Aston believes that only careful building over a sustained period of time will allow his side, and others, to compete with the game’s elite.
“There is a gap, ” Aston told The Star.
“There are clubs that have been competing for a number of years with no promotion or relegation, which has given them the chance to build.
“I spoke to Denis Betts (Widnes coach) last weekend and they have been in Super League for six years consecutively and they have made progress bit by bit.
“It is only now that they have realistically been able to fetch in people that they think are of better quality. We believe we have players in our camp that can handle this level, we will need to find others.”
If further proof was needed of just of how tough it will be to break into Super League, big spending Leigh Centurions, who appear to be The Championship’s best chance of success, fell to a heavy defeat at Wakefield.
“Leigh have had a go, if they don’t get anywhere then what happens because it is a big push,” Aston commented.
“From what I saw Leigh had one foot in the Super League camp after that first 40 minutes against Hull KR, but by losing that game they got a smack in the chops against Wakefield and it will be a tough task for them to get back out there now.
“That shows the gap, we shouldn’t kid ourselves. Super League week in, week out has a higher intensity and you get used to that quicker by playing at that level.”
* Eagles’ clash with Salford on Sunday, September 13 has been moved to a 5pm kick off at the AJ Bell Stadium.