Up to 10 players to leave Sheffield Eagles after disappointing Betfred Championship season

Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston has promised ‘significant change’ at the club after a disappointing season, with as many as 10 players moving on.
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The Eagles have already confirmed captain Matt James and influential winger Rob Worrincy will retire when the curtain comes down on the 2021 campaign later this month – and the process of replacing the key pair has already begun.

"We need to find good people who want to come in and progress and develop,” Aston told The Star.

"I’m excited about it. It's going to be a new challenge.

Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston.Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston.
Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston.
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"We will replace them with younger players. The rebuild is about getting people in for the next so many years."

Another of the club’s key players in recent seasons, 35-year-old vice-captain Anthony Thackeray, will be staying put for at least one more year.

But many others will be moving on.

"There could be five to 10 [leaving],” Aston said.

"There will be a significant change of personnel this year.

"One reason is retirement, another is people who leave and go for potentially more money, better offers which we can’t control, and the third will be people that we have taken as far as we can go or we don’t believe they have got the right attitude to be around the place.”

The coronavirus pandemic has hampered team-building efforts this year, Aston said, and he admitted some players ‘barely know each other’.

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“As the year’s gone on we are probably not where we would want to be in terms of our core values,” he added.

"We have let ourselves down, that’s the disappointment of it all.”

Further announcements on players’ futures will be made in the coming weeks – but Sheffield’s future planning has been affected by the anticipated drop in central funding from the Rugby Football League (RFL), which could range between 50 and 75 per cent.

Asked how the team can avoid a banana skin against basement boys Swinton on Sunday (4.30pm kick-off), Aston replied: “I tell people to have a little bit of pride in themselves.

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"I haven’t got a magic wand that will change the mentality, they can only change that themselves.

"Can they win? One-hundred per cent. They could have won the last two games. If we are a team, we get the result.”