Sheffield Eagles: Mark Aston hails influence of new signings Anthony Thackeray and Brad Knowles 

Anthony Thackeray
Anthony Thackeray

New signings Anthony Thackeray and Brad Knowles are setting the standards for the new look Sheffield Eagles, according to coach Mark Aston.

With 14 new players through the door, Aston is overseeing a total revamp of his ranks after often becoming frustrated and disenchanted with the attitude and fortitude of last season’s group.

After taking the axe to his roster over the past two months, Aston has stated that the early signs are looking good for the Eagles after casting a careful eye over the first two weeks of pre-season.

Two of his most eye-catching arrivals have set the standard, with both Thackeray and Knowles swapping life at Featherstone for a tilt in the Steel City.

Aston says the experienced Championship campaigners are showing some of their younger colleagues the correct way forward, as he continues to mould together his new look squad.

Aston told The Star: “We have a squad that now has become a team of highly-motivated players. That comes from within. People like Anthony Thackeray have a big influence on that.

“Then you have people like Brad Knowles who have come in and you can tell that he is a winner. He trains like a madman. We did a really tough two hour session this week, and then he's off to work. But that's not a problem to him, he takes it in his stride. That's what we are looking for.”

Aston has overseen a mass clear-out of the class of 2018, with just nine players surviving the cull as the Eagles chief looks to avoid another season flirting with the Championship’s relegation places.

It may still be early days, but Aston says the internal feedback has been positive, with a section of last season’s survivors, he says, already commenting on an improvement amongst the rank and file of his troops.

“The feedback from some of the players that were here last year is, wow, this is different,” Aston added. “They can see a group of players that all want to train. That's what one player who was here last season said to me. There is a good feel-good factor here.”

Meanwhile, the Eagles have unveiled CTJM Paving as short sponsor for the 2019 season. The club’s 2019 membership early bird deadline is also firmly on the horizon, with the deadline extended until 5pm on Thursday 29th November.