The lack of pre-season competitive action doesn’t concern Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston ahead of Sunday’s curtain raiser with Swinton Lions.
The Eagles haven’t had any pre-season friendlies in the build-up to the new campaign, but did fit in a behind closed doors session with Castleford last weekend.
The Eagles were scheduled to face Cas in an official pre-season showdown as part of Garry Lo’s switch to the Super League club, but the match was canned much to Aston’s disappointment.
The end of the dual-registration deal with St Helens saw another potential pre-season date disappear, whilst other fixtures close to being confirmed failed to materialise.
Whilst an official game with Castleford didn’t happen, the Tigers did face Aston’s side behind the scenes with Aston stating he was impressed with what he saw.
“I know there are people saying we haven't played a friendly,” Aston said.
“How we train is that we train physical. We have done a lot of work against each other. It has been good for us. We have had an opposed session the other day against Castleford which went really well. We caused their starting 13 some problems, and we went toe-to-toe with them. As much as it wasn't full on, it was still an opposed session against a strong Cas side. They didn't cause us many problems, we handled them quite well. I was really pleased.”
Aston looks to have a strong hand available to him for Sunday’s visit of Swinton, with just Rory Dixon (knee) and Joslin Landu (foot) sidelined.
His side won’t be lacking in fitness, with the Eagles coming back early for pre-season training which started back in November.
Whilst a competitive runout would have been ideal, Aston is relaxed with his approach, stating the hard work on the training ground should have his side sharp and ready to go.
“When people say we haven't had friendlies so we might be rusty, well it will always take you four or five games, but when you don't have a massive squad the last thing that you want to be doing is making them play 30 plus games a year.”
Meanwhile, The Star understands the Eagles’ showdown with Toronto – mooted to be played in Belgrade – looks now set to take place in London.