Sheffield Eagles: Mark Aston still optimistic about dual registration deal with St Helens

Mark Aston
Mark Aston

Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston still remains optimistic at securing another dual-registration deal with Super League heavyweights St Helens.

The Eagles enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Justin Holbrook’s side last season, with Aston openly admitting that the influence from Saints was the main reason behind securing their Championship survival.

During the closing weeks of the Championship campaign, Aston said he was looking to extend the deal into the 2019 season, but as yet nothing has been confirmed by their Lancashire counterparts.

Aston though is still confident that the deal will go through, as he plans for a much stronger run in 2019.

“I am just waiting for the conversation but I think that it will happen,” Aston told The Star.

“Having spoken to them the other day, they are reviewing all their processes at the moment, but they knew that it worked.”

The likes of Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth and Matty Costello all broke into the Saints side towards the back end of last season, whilst James Bentley also featured after some strong performances with the Eagles.

Aston believes that the game time provided by the Eagles was the perfect platform for their run in the Saints’ first-team, also insisting playing regularly in the Championship is a better option than playing in the reserve leagues.

“They have been complimentary about what we have done for them, because if those kids hadn't been with us this year, would they have been ready to play in their games at the back end of their season,” Aston added.

“If they had been playing in their reserves they might not. We're hoping, but we'll still have a bigger squad here. We'll be running at 23 or 24 next year which is important to us. Yes, there's some youth in there but that for me is the key to our success.”

Under the guidance of the Eagles, Costello impressed sufficiently to win the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award.

Aston continued: “They get confidence by playing against seasoned professionals, and then they are ready to play Super League. It isn't the first time it has been done, and it won't be the last.”

The Eagles have confirmed five new arrivals for next season, with Batley second-rower Joel Farrell the latest name to commit himself for 2019 after agreeing a one-year deal.