Massive task awaits Aston’s part-timers

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Sheffield Eagles part-time players are facing playing a massive 39 game games this season if their run of success continues.

It’s a worry for coach Mark Aston as the club attempts to stay ahead in the league and compete in two cup competitions.

“It’s a massive ask. Super League ask their full-time players to play 26 league games,” he said. “Why then are we asking part-time Championship players to play the same and Cup games?

The Eagles go to Doncaster on Friday hoping to book a place in the Northern Rail final and after a return to league action face Super League club London Broncos in the a Challenge Cup semi-final.

They have already played 22 league and cup games – the victory at Batley equalling the club record of 13 straight wins in a season. Continued success in the Cups plus making a third Championship Grand Final would push that to 39 games.

Aston fears a knock-on effect. He said: “It’s something that’s in my mind. The more successful you are the harder it becomes and the harder it is to stay in front in the league. By the time we get to the end of the season we’re going to be playing two games a week at some stage. Then if you pick up injuries that will make it even harder. That will be out of our control.”

Aston has been rotating his squad but mainly in the forwards where he has cover in Eddie Battye, Dario Esposito and Ben Gledhill on loan from Salford Reds.

Problems could come at half-back if Patch Walker or Dominic Brambani picked up an injury.

Meanwhile Aston has called for closer RFL monitoring of how the dual registration system is being used.

It came after Batley included two players from Huddersfield and one from Castleford under such deals against Eagles in last Thursday’s game. Because of an anomaly the Bulldogs also have a third deal with St Helens.

“It’s out of order,” he said. It’s wrong, you are supposed to have one partnership with one club. The Rugby League that should be monitoring it.”