Rugby League: Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston not worried by lack of friendly action

Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston
Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston
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Sheffield Eagles boss Mark Aston has played down the importance of pre-season friendlies ahead of the new campaign.

The Eagles currently do not have any friendlies lined up, and suffered a sluggish start to last year’s competition after their only pre-season game in the south of France was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

Aston’s side will again head over the channel in January, but their partner club Limoux Grizzlies have a French league game so will not be available to give the Eagles a full match.

The Sheffield coach said: “If the right friendly becomes available, we’ll take it, but it has to be right for us.

“Of course it’s important to hit the ground running, and a lot of teams have set up four or five friendlies to make some money.

“It’s alright making money, but if you lose your players before the season starts it’s not very productive.

“We’re pretty physical in what we do in training. We don’t hold back. We replicate what the game is about, so I’m not too worried about it.

“I would have liked to have played a game in France, which was the aim. However, what we will get down there is some real tough, physical preparation.

“We’re going to be playing lots more 13 vs 13 in training, because we have the numbers to do so now. I’m not too concerned.”

The players have been back in training for a few weeks now, and Aston has praised their work ethic since returning to the club.

The Eagles made eight off-season acquisitions, and the coach is pleased with how the players have gelled together in the early weeks of preparation for next year.

He continued: “It’s going great - the boys are really working hard.

“There’s a really good feel and a really good vibe about the place and the boys have actually delivered above and beyond what we had expected at this stage.

“The Australian lads have brought a lot of strength and power but also some skill as well.

“When you look at the likes of Rob Worrincy’s speed and then someone like Tony Tonks’ toughness; we have a really good balance.

“We’ve upped the ante and the results on testing have been evidence that they have improved from last year - which we needed to do. We needed to go to that next level.”