29th August 2019, 07:55
Captain James stays on
Sheffield Eagles captain Matt James has signed a new contract which will see him stay at the Olympic Legacy Park for the next two years.
James, who joined in 2016 from Featherstone Rovers, is an integral part of the squad’s leadership group and has still played a big role this season despite suffering a season-ending injury at the Summer Bash.
For the prop forward, the decision to re-sign was a simple one.
“It was an easy decision for me really,” he said.
“I had a chat with Tubbs after my injury and he said he’d look after me, in his words, and he has been good to me.
“I am really happy to be offered a two-year deal and I cannot wait to get back and rip in pre-season and hopefully be ready for the start of next season.
“I can’t thank him enough for giving me an opportunity to put things right in the case of coming back from injury and getting back playing.
If you speak to anybody in the squad, James’ influence off the field will always be complimented.
So much so, James was asked to lift the 1895 Cup with stand-in captain Anthony Thackeray.
The forward also warmed up with the players on the Wembley turf and offered words of advice to the pack.
“It has been a bit bittersweet for me,” he confirmed.
"I’d have chopped my leg off to have been out there this year and at Wembley.
“I’m thrilled to bits for these boys. When I got injured, it wasn’t a good time and we have come through it and ended the season strongly.
“It has been good for those lads who have come in and taken things on. I can’t sit here and complain about stuff, it’s a team sport at the end of the day and the lads who have come in have done a job.
“I’ll be working my hardest to get back to the condition I was in before I got injured and take this club on to the next level again.”
The Sheffield born-and-bred forwards Blake Broadbent, Paddy Burns and Greg Burns have really come on leaps and bounds in the last season under the tutelage of James.
James has immense pride in the trio, whose progression has been immense which has helped the club climb the table and also claim silverware.
“It’s great to see (the young forwards), especially those Sheffield lads who have been good for the club,” James added.
“They have gone up against some experienced forwards towards the backend of the year and it’s only going to do them the world of good going into next season.
“They have got that experience and now know they don’t necessarily need to look to anyone.
"They can find in themselves as they have shown in their displays this year."
James becomes the third player to sign a new contract with the Eagles following their AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final win over Widnes Vikings at Wembley.
The Welsh international believes the only way is up for the Eagles after picking up silverware for the first time in a few seasons.
“We are building again,” he added.
“To get two years, I can put all my focus into pre-season and come into the season on the top of my game.
“If I don’t, the other boys can step in.
“It’s looking bright and I just can’t wait to get going again, and it’ll be a fresh start for me.”
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman