Sheffield Eagles will be calling on influential second rower Michael Knowles to spearhead their push for a place in the middle eight.
Eagles’ victory over Hunslet last Friday re-enforced their third place position in the Kingstone Press Championship, but with the chasing pack of Dewsbury, Featherstone and Halifax all winning there is still work to do.
After a comprehensive defeat against London Broncos at the Summer Bash, the victory over Hunslet was a timely return to form, which also coincided with the return from injury of their talisman Knowles.
A try scorer in the 54-10 win, Knowles has been singled out by Director of Rugby Mark Aston as his voice on the field, and he hopes he can lead by example as the Eagles look to carry their form into Friday’s encounter at Batley. “Michael is a fighter, he wants to win every collision,” Aston said.
“You can hear him out there, he just gives you the voice and we’ve missed that at times. When things go wrong we need somebody with a voice who can provide some action, and with Knosser that is what you get.”
Knowles, who penned a new deal with the club earlier in the season, has been feeling the effects of a knock to his knee this week, but is expected to be available. Should he miss out then Aston will be looking for others to show an example to the younger players, and he admitted that he has been impressed in recent games with the leadership qualities displayed by other members of his side.
“When we lose senior players to injuries the others have to stand up” Aston said. “The likes of Duane Straugheir, John Davies and one or two others have stood up over the last couple of weeks. They all need to add their voice, bring some energy and be physical. Aat times against Hunslet Duane and John did that, and people forget that we had to do a lot of defending in that first half. Despite this the lads stood up and only let one try through in the first half and one in the second, in a game like that when you are away it is very easy to let a few more in.”