Sheffield Eagles director Mark Aston admits that outgoing ace Elliot Minchella was one of the players he was looking to build around next season.
Eagles have been dealt a blow with the ex-Leeds star opting to join Bradford Bulls for next season.
After plugging gaps in several positions this season, which has seen the 21-year-old at loose forward and in the halves, Minchella quickly became an integral member of Aston’s ranks.
With 14 tries in 30 appearances in 2017, Minchella became one of the first names of the team sheet and Aston admits he wanted the ex-London Broncos ace to play a big part in the future.
“There’s a bit of sadness for me as I was hoping we could build something around him” Aston said. “He has made his decision and I understand why. It is financial and it is the chance to play for his home town club.”
Minchella is the second big name to confirm his departure, with try-machine Garry Lo heading for Super League heavyweights Castleford Tigers.
The deal for Lo could see the PNG flyer return on loan next season, but Minchella’s departure will be a big loss to Aston.
It was tough start for Bradford-born star in his early days, but he slowly became one of Aston’s most trusted lieutenants.
“He needs to do what he feels is best for him,” Aston added philosophically.
“We now have to take stock and start to move it on again. We know we are going to lose people. There will be some changes, and it is up to us to bring players in.”
When the season entered the final stages, Aston hinted at big changes for next season after having to tinker with his squad several times over the course of the 2017 campaign.
One player who was a mainstay for Aston looks set to stay, after skipper Matty James told the Star he was keen to lead the Eagles again into next season.