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Aston provides pre-season update

28/12/2021

Ahead of a big 2022 campaign, with Sheffield Eagles returning to the city, Director of Rugby Mark Aston has provided fans with an update on his squad’s pre-season progress.

Having made eye-catching signings such as Ben Jones-Bishop and Kris Welham amongst some League 1 acquisitions that include Liam Johnson, Brandon Douglas (both Doncaster) and Matty Chrimes (Hunslet), Aston is happy with how the new players have integrated with the remaining members of the 2021 squad. 

Discussing pre-season thus far, Aston said: “It’s going really well,” 

"The boys have come back in with a good attitude and they’re working really hard. 

"The nice thing about it all is that they’re quite close-knit already, whereas usually it’d take a bit of time for the squad to get to know each other. 

"Their application and commitment to doing what they’re asked is fantastic and we’re enjoying them as a coaching staff, they’re enjoying us as players. 

"There are challenges ahead no doubt but they are working hard.” 

Welham and Jones-Bishop are just two of the senior players Aston has looked at to become mentors for the youngsters in the squad. 

Explaining what he expects from the former Super League duo, as well as the likes of James Davey, Anthony Thackeray and Joel Farrell, Aston added: “One of the things we have asked of the senior guys, those that have played at the top level or been in and around the top of this division, is to mentor the youngsters,”

“The young ones can’t go to the corner shop and buy experience. 

“Part of the remit for the senior guys is to give advice and support, which is what they're doing. 

“Kris Welham has been a breath of fresh air, he is working his socks off as is Ben Jones-Bishop. 

“They’re applying themselves and although you may think as players get older they might go through the motions, these two are up there with the most professional people I’ve ever met. 

“The juniors are finding their feet with us and the mentorship is what I want the club to be about. 

“The people like Ryan Johnson and Connor Bower will learn a lot from Kris Welham, the same with Matty Chrimes, Ben Sheils, Jason Bass learning from Ben Jones-Bishop. It’s a nice balance. 

“There will be competition of places and we’ll be a bit bigger this year, having brought in the likes of Brandon Douglas, James Johnson, Mikey Wood. 

"The fans will like the players for their work ethic and they’re the right sort of age to get better and develop into the best they can be.

“The standards are high, the non-negotiables are in place and there is no moaning and groaning.”

By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman