Sheffield Eagles are graduating a well-educated reserve team

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SHEFFIELD Eagles’ coach Mark Aston sees an increasing number of first team players graduating from university rugby league.

It’s a factor in the club’s decision to run their reserve team under the banner of Sheffield Hallam Eagles next year. The team replaces the Eagles U23 squad.

Aston says the club had been considering the move but added the demise of the current Championship reserve competition speeded up the process. “It’s been in our mind but we didn’t expect it to be this year” he said.

“We expected every team in the Championship to run Under 23s but only three committed.”

Aston, who was awarded an honourary degree by Hallam last month, added: “It cements a relationship we have with them. Our junior players use their performance centre.

“It gives an opportunity to the lads going to university to train with quality coaches. In the club system we have 22 players who have gone through Hallam or are currently still at the university.”

Eagles first team squad includes former Hallam students Jack Howieson and Pat Smith. Current Hallam students Sam Williamson and Leigh Sanders are in the elite reserves.