SHEFFIELD Eagles coach Mark Aston has praised the determination of his players as they face a tough opening to the Championship season.
The squad has been disrupted by injuries and the loss of loan players as they play two games in four days.
Aston wants the same battling attitude shown in the 44-16 defeat by title favourites Widnes to be taken into tonight’s game at York City Knights.
“It was an encouraging performance – the score didn’t give a true picture of the way the lads played against a quality team in Widnes,” said Aston.
“The first ten minutes we hardly touched the ball while they had three sets and we showed a lot of resolve which is what we need with a big game at York coming up fast.
“We played a couple of young lads, Corey Hanson and Jamie Cottle, and they stood up well. On another day Corey might have had a hat-trick of tries.
“There was a lot of encouraging stuff in the Widnes game but we need to be a little bit better. Our line defence is the key and we gave away penalties on the back of which Widnes scored tries, we can’t afford that.”
Utility player Dane McDonald is a big doubt with an ankle injury for tonight’s game, but Menzie Yere is back from suspension to add power to the backs.
New signing Quentin Laulu-Togagae, pictured, will also have had two intensive training sessions with his new team.
The Samoan international made his debut against Widnes only 48 hours after arriving from Australia.
He said: “It was good to be out there but I hadn’t played for five months and I was a bit rusty. I need to learn the game plan and the basic stuff quickly.”
Aston was without all his four dual-registration players against Widnes although he hopes to have centre Jason Crookes, signed from Bradford Bulls last week, available tonight.
The game at York is live on Sky Sports, kick-off 7.30pm.