By Alex Stanley
Table-topping Sheffield Eagles are searching for a third victory in three games this weekend as they take on Batley Bulldogs.
After a convincing win over Workington Town on the first day of the season, the Eagles then put in a fine home display to beat top four hopefuls Halifax 26-6.
For the first time since they were relegated from the Super League in 2000, the Eagles now have full time status, which Director of Rugby, Mark Aston believes is a huge bonus for the club.
He said: “The main thing about going full time is the number of hours you can work together to prepare correctly for games. Full time we are training 20 plus hours a week so that’s the biggest difference. Rugby League is a very skilful game so it allows more time on the finer details such as weights, conditioning and of course, skill. Hopefully it allows us to prepare for Super League in the future.”
Speaking about their start to the season and prospects for the future, Aston’s vision is simple: “Our objective is to better what we achieved last year which was by far our best season to date.”
Eagle’s fan, John Wilkinson, 59, said after the Halifax game: “It’s looking promising isn’t it? Workington was a game we shouldn’t be losing but to beat Halifax as easily as we did shows we are heading in the right direction. I’m not entirely sure what the full time status means for the club, but having a proper stadium will definitely be a step in the right direction to the Super League.”
Players at the club are also impressed with the difference becoming a full-time team has made on their training.
Reserve team fullback Ross McGinn gave his take on his experience, saying: “I enjoy being a player at the club, I think this year even more so than before. With the team gym sessions every week at Goodwin and a dedicated reserves coach, the quality of what’s provided for us is pretty high.”
Despite going full time, Sheffield Eagles are still without a permanent home, however Aston is happy with the current situation.
He added: “We are very fortunate in Sheffield to have two great universities that support us. Our training base is at Goodwin Sports Centre, Sheffield University and we play out at Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park. We will be moving into a new ground next year on the old Don Valley site which is very exciting and will help the development of our great club.”
The Eagle’s new state of the art stadium is set to be ready for use later this year.
This Sunday’s game at Batley is a 3pm kick off.
Watch Mark Aston talk about the full time status of the club here…