Joshua Toole’s departure from Sheffield Eagles may not yet be cut and dried, but director of rugby Mark Aston says it is ‘doubtful’ the Irish international will return next season.
Last week Aston says he was attempting to persuade the versatile centre to stay in South Yorkshire after an impressive debut season with the club.
But Toole’s name was listed as one of those who would be departing after last Sunday’s loss against Rochdale, as the Eagles ended the 2018 campaign with five straight defeats.
Most would have thought that was the end of the matter, but Aston says the door is still open for Toole to return, but admitted the chances of seeing the 28-year-old next season remain slim.
Aston said: “I have asked him to stay, I have spoken to him and I have tried and tried and tried. I am not sure what will happen. I think he just needs to get away and clear his head.
“Josh will go home for a time, and we'll see. He needs to get home to Australia, see his family and freshen up. If he then wants to come back he says he'll speak to me, but at this moment in time it is looking pretty doubtful.”
The Eagles have confirmed that James Davey will return from Batley, but Aston has remained tight-lipped about the other nine signings he says he has in the bag for 2019.
The new arrivals are expected to be confirmed from the start of next week, as Aston wastes no time in getting a new look squad together ready for what is expected to be a much stronger 14-team Championship next season.
Whilst he wants Toole to be part of his future plans, the experienced coach says he can’t stand still as he looks to finalise his roster.
“I'll have to plan to move, and look for someone else. That's what we do, don't we,” he added.
“Josh will go home for a time, and we'll see. I have a lot of respect for Tooley and what he stands for and how he is. We brought him over to give him a chance at this level and he has handled it. He has been great. He is a winner, and we have enjoyed him. I've known him for a number of years, he even stopped at my house for a while. We want to convince him to stay because we know we'll be in a better place.”