6th January 2019, 18:55
James hoping to repay Eagles fans after disappointing 2018
Matt James says the Eagles are looking to repay the fans’ loyalty after a number of turbulent seasons, both on and off the field.
Despite returning to the Steel City last year, the Eagles rarely hit their straps although they did retain their Championship status.
James has been a consistent performer since signing for the club in 2016 and he is looking forward to a potentially exciting season.
“We had a tough, long slog last year didn’t we?” James reflected.
“We have had an overhaul of players and training has been really intense.
“We’ve stepped it up from last year, mucking in really well and getting a nice tight-knit group together.
“Tubbs (Eagles DoR Mark Aston) has added some real good quality to the squad so I’m really optimistic for this season coming up.
“It is certainly the biggest buzz around pre-season since I’ve been here.
“We came in in bits and bats last year, we had 10 players at the beginning of the pre-season and obviously no club wants that.
“We have 20-odd players training at every session so there is that intensity there and competition for places already.
“You can see people need to be stepping their game up from last year to play this year.
“We have strength in depth which is a luxury we haven’t had before.”
The Eagles take on Swinton Lions in the first game of the Championship season and James sees it as a perfect chance to put down a marker.
“We can’t look too far forward, we need to focus on our training and then hit the ground running against Swinton,” he added.
“If we put a statement down, we can take it game by game after that.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge. You look through the fixtures and there’s no easy games. We need to start really well.
“Nobody was more disappointed about letting the fans down last year than us boys.
“We didn’t deliver what we could have done but that has gone now.
“Hopefully we can repay them by showing some really good form, going well in the league and competing this year unlike last season.
“Fingers crossed the hard work pays off and we can hit the ground running.”
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman