Sheffield Eagles have confirmed Jason Crookes as their second close season arrival, with the club expected to announce several more new faces over the coming days.
Crookes joins James Davey in committing himself to Mark Aston’s side after both left fellow Championship side Batley Bulldogs at the end of the 2018 campaign.
The 28-year-old centre has signed a one-year deal with the Eagles, with Aston pleased to add some steel to his squad for 2019 after what was a disappointing campaign last time out.
“He's tough and that is something that we have been looking out for,” Aston told The Star.
“We have needed a back that can give us a bit of toughness. He is quality.
“I am delighted to get him, he is strong, he runs great lines and he's fast. Defensively he'll put himself about as well.”
Crookes has previously worked under Aston during a short stint with the Eagles in 2011, when he joined from then Super League side Bradford Bulls.
The versatile operator has also enjoyed loan spells with Widnes and York in his career, as well as a permanent stint with Hull FC between 2013 and 2014, and Dewsbury Rams between 2015 and 2017.
He was a prominent figure for Batley last season, making 21 appearances, scoring seven tries.
Aston continued: “You don't play at the standards that he played at in the game without being able to play. Yes, he may be disappointed that he still isn't there but he is certainly a quality Championship player, and what we have to do is re-kindle that passion to make sure he is the best he can be. If we get that out of him, we'll have one of the best players in the competition.”
Crookes is a versatile operator after spells on the wing during his career, but Aston sees him in the centre for the Eagles, and says he’s excited about the potential partnerships with some of his existing members.
“His preferred position is centre, and that's where I see him,” Aston stated.
“That doesn't mean he cannot play in other positions. He's played on the wing which is a nice added bonus that he can cover a number of other positions. I'd like to think that he could form a strong centre-wing partnership with someone like Ben Blackmore or Ryan Millar in 2019. I think that will get us a few tries, and we'll be a real threat.”