Player power will boost team-spirit at Sheffield Eagles

Matty James in action
Matty James in action

Sheffield Eagles director Mark Aston says a newly developed five-player senior committee with instil a self-discipline system into his revolutionised 2019 team.

Aston has been working hard to ensure that the same ‘team culture’ mistakes are not repeated. The Eagles chief was a critic of the dressing room vibe in 2018, and has recruited some wise old heads to help steer a ship full of young talent. To help his self-governance programme Aston has called upon five players to form a link between the coaching staff and the rank and file, with the aim of self-policing, rather constantly hearing voices from above.

“They are our liaison between the players and the coaching staff,” Aston explained. “We can bounce ideas off them and they can give us steer of how the group are feeling. There will be dialogue between them and the staff, we'll have meetings to see if there is anything that they want pick up with and vice-versa. If there are things that are concerning me, then they will go back and sort it out. That's better than having it all about us, and the staff constantly disciplining them. They have got to take responsibility and be accountable for each other.”

The leadership panel consists of skipper Matty James, new signing Anthony Thackeray, the returning pair of James Davey and Pat Walker, whilst winger Ben Blackmore has been more recently elevated into the group.

James has been captain for the past two seasons, and like Blackmore he is about to start his fourth campaign with the club.

Davey and Walker are a throwback to the Eagles’ trophy winning days, with Aston re-signing the duo from Batley with the intention of reinvigorating his dressing room.

“Matty James is in that group, we have added Ben Blackmore to it as well,” Aston confirmed.

“Then we have three newcomers in Anthony Thackeray, Pat Walker and James Davey. They have all been to different places, some of those like Patch and Jimmy have been with us before, Anthony hasn't but he's very experienced. There is a good balance of players in this senior group who have played a lot of games and who will help drive the bus to where we need to be.”