Aston to ring the changes

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SHEFFIELD Eagles aim to add an extra sharpness to the their play as they face Whitehaven in the first home game of the season.

Coach Mark Aston will to continue his policy of giving as many players as possible game time during the Northern Rail Cup group stages.

“There will be changes, that’s always been the plan,” said Aston. “These are important games because we need to get the balance of the team right.”

Team selection will be delayed until Aston knows if dual registration signings from Huddersfield Giants, half-back Kyle Wood and back row forward Jamie Cording, are available.

If Wood is still sidelined, Dane McDonald will continue stand-off but the forward pack will be shuffled with prop Ryan Hepworth coming in.

The trip to Gateshead saw debuts for hooker Pat Smith and forwards Scott Watson and Liam Higgins.

The Eagles shot into a 16-0 lead but Gateshead came back well in the second half. It took tries from centres Corey Hanson, his first in a senior game, and Menzie Yere completing his hat-trick, to seal the win.

Whitehaven come to Don Valley Stadium, on Sunday, (kick-off 3pm) after a traumatic year that saw them relegated to Championship One and going into administration.

Meanwhile the spotlight will be on Rob Powell as the first Sheffield-born coach of a Super League club when Harlequins RL open their season.

The Quins face Catalans Dragons in the second game of the Millenium Magic Weekend at Cardiff’s Stadium on Saturday.

Powell, whose parents live in Nether Green and was a former pupil at Birkdale School, is at 30 the youngster coach in the Super League.