Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston has described the departure of long serving Duane Straugheir as a ‘massive shock’.
The back-to-back Grand Final winner was one of 10 players who departed the Eagles following the end of the 2017 campaign, and one of the most high-profile after spending five successful years with the club.
The Eagles confirmed that the 28-year-old was moving to a team in League One, with Aston left disappointed at losing one his most trusted lieutenants.
Straughier stayed with the club despite the uncertainty following their short-term move into a full-time outfit in 2016, and Aston admitted he was surprised to hear of his departure as the club prepares for their long awaited return to Sheffield.
“I thought he would stay if I am honest,” Aston revealed to The Star.
“I have a good relationship with Duane and I was honest and told him what I thought on how he has gone this year, and years gone by. I thought he would stay here, and get to the levels that he wants to get to. I was a little bit disappointed that he wanted to go elsewhere but that is the nature of the game, it is what happens. There were a few surprises. Duane and Elliot Minchella were both surprises. It was a massive shock to me that both of them left.”
Minchella’s departure to Bradford Bulls was also a bitter blow to Aston, who is now preparing to fly out to prepare his Ireland side for the upcoming World Cup.
The Eagles chief admitted that he thought a deal was there to keep hold of the former Leeds youngster, but confirmed now that his only focus is to strengthen his ranks with additions expected to be rubber stamped in the coming weeks.
“Players come and go, and you have to get on with it,” he added.
“We will fetch players in, there will be some new kids on the block because that is what I have always done here. That is what I will always do.
“We have done the things we have wanted to do with Elliot, he wanted to stay and we were doing the deal. I was probably the last to find out which disappointed me a little bit more if I am honest, but that is the game we are in.”
Meanwhile ex-Eagle Sam Scott has been linked with a move to League One side York.