SHEFFIELD Eagles’ coach Mark Aston is determined to prove that their first Championship title was “no fluke” when the new season kicks-off.
Aston is targeting back-to-back Grand Final wins to silence any critics as they set out to defend the trophy won last year after battling through the play-offs. “It was no one-off, we got to the semi-final three years ago, the final the next year and got beat, last year we won the final – that’s not a fluke,” he said.
“We have developed year after year and the next phase for us is to be more consistent. We have kept a bit of continuity in the squad and added five new players who are very strong.”
In recognition of the Eagles Grand Final win the Co-operative 2013 Championship season was officially in Sheffield today.
The league has been increased to 14 teams with the four new clubs, including Doncaster who won the Championship One title last year. Aston forecasts that will increase the pressure to improve on the club’s fourth place finish in 2012.
The Eagles kick-off their title defence at Halifax in a week’s time and play their first home game against Batley at Don Valley Stadium the following Friday. It’s a tough start.
Aston said: “Great isn’t it – Halifax and then Batley, two good teams in the first two rounds. It depends on who is ready. We as a squad have a lot of players who have been together for a while and hopefully that will give us an edge.”
He added: “Hopefully we will get that bit better but when you look around there are lots of teams that have added to their squads. We’ll be facing some strong teams – Halifax, Leigh, Batley – and we will have to move on. We will challenge ourselves to get to a third Grand Final and be the first team to go back-to-back with wins.”