The upcoming season will give Sheffield Eagles a better opportunity to develop their flock of upcoming youngsters, believes director Mark Aston.
Without a reserve team structure over recent years, Aston has managed to develop a pool of young professionals which started with the re-signing of former youngsters Paddy Burns and Blake Broadbent at the start of the 2018 campaign.
Whilst the opportunity of playing in League One on dual-registration with Hemel aided their development, it was the sink or swim situation of being thrust into the Eagles setup during a relegation scrap which saw the duo prove they had the game required.
With 14 new players, and a healthier team ethic, the platform for development is a more settled one - with Aston stating he now needs to manage their game time much better, after working off a threadbare squad last season.
Burns had to adapt quickly, and Aston says there is still plenty more to come from the young utility forward.
Aston said: “We threw Paddy him and he played a lot of games in 2018. For his development we need to manage him right. “We are going to have a stronger squad for 2019, and that will make it difficult for everyone to get into the side which is great."
Aston will be keeping a close eye on the likes of Burns and Broadbent, but now knows he has the comfort of taking them out of the firing line if he feels a rest will be beneficial.
“We want that competition for places, we need it,” he added.
“Will Paddy be in the starting 17 at the beginning of the season? Well, that will depend on what happens in pre-season. We had a shock with it last year because we didn't have enough players and not enough quality around the place. That is certainly not the case now, we have a much stronger unit.”