Sheffield Eagles: Mark Aston concerned over potential number of games ahead this season

Mark Aston
Mark Aston
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A new season and a new format, but according to Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston, there’s still long standing problem ahead of the new campaign.

The Eagles start their Betfred Championship campaign against Swinton at the OLP this Sunday, with the rugby league authorities implementing a number of changes for the new season.

The Super 8s have been replaced, but with the second tier increasing to 14 teams, plus the introduction of the 1895 Cup, Aston has called into the question the amount of games potentially lying in wait for his side.

But the Eagles chief has embraced some of the changes, with the opportunity of a Wembley appearance for the 1895 Cup finalists likely to be popular.

Aston has vowed to ‘get on with it’ but is adamant less games would improve the quality of the competition overall.

“It's what they want to do so we'll get on with it,” Aston informed The Star.

“We won't moan about it, we'll support it and we'll give it our best shot.

“I talk about it quite a bit, but for me we simply play too many games. 24 would have been ideal for me. We'll end up playing around 30 plus again this year. For part-time players, there is no preparation time and that's what we need to raise the quality of the competition.”

The new cup competition, for clubs in The Championship and League One, will be played midweek, which has again drew widespread debate.

After last season’s struggles, Aston is keen to re-establish his side in the middle region of The Championship after narrowly avoiding the drop in 2018.

The cup may have to come second for the Eagles, with Aston conceding the league is his top priority for next season.

“We'll be realistic, the most important thing for us is the league competition this year,” he added.

“There's another cup competition now, love it or hate it, it is what it is. We are playing midweek, do I agree with that? No. Why do we want to play midweek? It is crazy enough the amount of games we pay. But we will get on with it, the players are looking at it favourably because there is potential for them to play at Wembley on the back of it. That will give it some added interest.”