Replacing long-serving Quentin Laulu-Togagae has proven difficult, but Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston believes Jack Owens is providing a different alternative to the full-back position.
Laulu-Togagae, pictured, departed for Toronto during the close season after six successful years in South Yorkshire, with the Eagles forced to experiment as they sought a replacement for the popular full-back.
Winger Ryan Millar has performed admirably after switching positions, but Aston took the opportunity to add St. Helens loanee Owens to his ranks, with the former Widnes ace bagging his first try in the victory over Rochdale.
Filling the boots of ‘QLT’ is a tall order, and while Aston admits Owens isn’t the same type of player, he’s confident the alternative approach is just what the Eagles need.
“We are used to Q aren’t we? We have had him for six or seven years and his record speaks for itself,” Aston said.
“He scores tries in abundance, that’s what he does. His anticipation, his reactions, his support play - it was second to none, as good as anyone in the game.
“Jack is a little bit different. He will pick up that support play, he has probably got better hands than Q, and maybe a bit more idea with the kicking side.
“We had QLT for so long, he knew the players and the plays inside out. Jack has to learn that, so does Ryan Millar, it will take time.”
The 23-year-old boasts Super League experience going back to 2012 and has played five games already this season for Saints.
He made his debut in the Summer Bash defeat of Swinton where, after a slow start, he made a telling pass in the build-up to Garry Lo’s try at the start of the second half.
A try-scorer against the Hornets on Sunday, Aston says that there is plenty more to come from his versatile addition.
“I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet,” Aston maintained.
“There have been a couple of mistakes but he is still getting used to us. The big thing so far for me is his communication skills.
“He has that authority at the back and some people find that very difficult, but Jack is very comfortable with that.
“He can pass, he can play and once he fully understands what we want he will add another dimension to our attacking force.”