The make-up of Sheffield Eagles’ side for the upcoming Championship Shield looks set to have a youthful twist, leading to director of rugby Mark Aston to lean on the leadership qualities of some of his more established men.
With St Helens loan trio Liam Cooper, Jonah Cunningham and Calvin Wellington all set to appear for the first time in Sunday’s showdown with Oldham, Aston look set to put his faith in youth as he looks to go one better than last season’s final defeat.
One player in particular who could have a major impact is experienced half-back Simon Brown.
After being dropped in favour of dual-reg ace Danny Richardson for the game with Swinton, Brown was then sidelined through injury before returning for the final weeks of the regular season.
After a week off Aston’s side have re-charged their batteries, leading to calls for Brown to hit the heights that made him an automatic pick at the start of the season.
“We felt that Simon (picture) needed a break, so young Danny Richardson came in and that was a shot in the arm,” said Aston.
“He picked up the knee injury which didn’t help, so there was a bit of disruption towards the end of the season.
“To be fair to Simon he has trained hard. It is up to him to keep his head down, work hard and try and stay in the team. He knows what I want from him, hopefully now he is over the injury and will lead us for the rest of the season.”
Now in his second spell with the Eagles, Brown has racked up 21 appearances this season after re-joining during the close season.
With the Eagles falling at the final hurdle last season after a defeat to Bradford Bulls, Aston has stated that Brown has a major role to play if they are to end their campaign on a high with some silverware.
“People forget that Simon had hung his boots up,” Aston added.
“He had effectively retired. He has been instrumental in so many wins this season, he has helped. He has a massive part to play now for the remainder of this season. He needs to be on top of his game, and not just him I have said to the players that they need to show they are worth keeping for next year as well.”