Aston on the excitement within Eagles squad for 2022
Sheffield Eagles chief Mark Aston has given an insight into the squad’s preparations for the new season, which starts on Sunday 30th January against Barrow Raiders.
Aston brought in 15 new faces during the off-season and has been happy with the chemistry that has been on show, especially during the hard yards at training.
Helped by the fact a lot of the squad have played together elsewhere at some point in their careers, the Eagles boss isn’t surprised that it hasn’t taken long to gel.
Firstly, discussing the pre-season routine over Christmas and New Year, Aston said: “We have been in over the festive period and that’s the unfortunate thing for the boys, with the season starting earlier, as we couldn’t afford to give them a couple of weeks off over that period,”
“They have been working really hard.
“We have been speaking about the first game at Barrow while we were doing our hill sessions at Thornes Park in Wakefield, how tough it’ll be up there and how tough it is on that Sunday when you’re going 150 metres uphill.
“The excitement is there and they have a twinkle in their eyes.
“They’re ready to go but we have to contain that for a few more weeks until it happens.
“We’re upping the ante now as there is a lot of physicality as they are getting their bodies for the start of the season.”
Although the squad features older heads such as Kris Welham, Ben Jones-Bishop and Anthony Thackeray, on the whole Aston has recruited players with their peak ahead of them.
This is something he likes to have within a squad, commenting: “We have brought in the experience of Kris Welham and Ben Jones-Bishop, and also having Anthony Thackeray here too, but when you look at everyone else we’ve brought in - they’re around the 23-25 age mainly.
“The nice thing is that there is a relatively young squad here.
“The mentorship is starting to kick in around this period and a lot of work has been done on the field.
“They have all impressed. Blake Broadbent is a different kid to what he was at the end of 2021. He’s getting bigger, fitter and he’s 23 now so he’s becoming confident and that shows with his outstanding pre-season.
“We brought in Will Wallis and he is probably where Blake was three years ago. He is tough and uncompromising and over the next few years he’ll be a handful.
“The other signings have been impressing me too. When you change a lot of the squad, people can worry about it but these kids are hungry to develop and be the best they can be.
“The other nice thing is when we talk about continuity bringing the consistency we need - most of these lads have played against and with each other before. Izaac and Joel Farrell have played with Mikey Wood, Liam Johnson. Liam Kirk has played with Ross Oakes, Evan Hodgson, Matty Chrimes so they’re all best mates already.
"That is fantastic for us as it doesn’t take as long to bond and you can see it in their attitude.”
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By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman