Matty James says the Summer Bash gives the game an ‘extra buzz’, but the question remains whether the influential skipper will be fit for the Championship’s showpiece event.
The Eagles travel to Blackpool FC’s Bloomfield Road to face Barrow Raiders looking to take some momentum from an improved display in defeat to London Broncos, as Mark Aston’s side look to kick-start their season with fixtures against sides outside the division’s elite top four.
Aston received a boost with the return of vice-captain Matty Fozard and versatile full-back Corey Makelim, but James remains a doubt after missing recent outings with a niggling knee injury.
Director of rugby Aston has since confirmed that James has spent time in hospital following an infection, but fit or not, the ex-Featherstone and Barrow ace knows the significance of the task ahead for the Eagles.
“The game is going to be massive,” the 31-year-old explained to The Telegraph.
“It is on TV as well so the boys will get an extra buzz from that. After Barrow we have Swinton so obviously you have to take the game that is in front of you first, but we know there are some big games coming up, and they are games that we are looking to win. I like the format and it is good way to get the game of rugby league out there. Obviously we don’t get as much exposure in The Championship. Back in the day we did, and I remember playing on Thursday nights on the TV. This will help promote the sport, the fans seem to respond to it so it is a great opportunity.”
After back-to-back defeats against high-flying London, the upcoming games against Barrow, Swinton and Batley present a much more realistic opportunity for the Eagles to score some vital points in their fight for survival.
James has watched from the sidelines as the Eagles have struggled in recent weeks, but an improved showing last weekend has given Aston’s side something to build on ahead of crucial period in their campaign.
“You have to be realistic sometimes,” James continued. “You enter a rugby field, and no-one wants to lose a game, but with some of the squads that are in the league this year, it is really tough. We need to concentrate on our form for one, and make sure that we keep picking up points off the teams that are in and around us in the table.”
The Eagles gave the Broncos a scare at the Trailfinders last weekend, but a double sin-binning before the break cost them dearly, with Aston unhappy at both decisions.
Despite London going down to 12 men in the second-half, the Eagles ran out of steam in the final quarter as the Broncos enjoyed a strong final 10 minutes.
The Eagles chief could be without Paddy Burns who suffered a head injury at London, with Aston again out of luck on the injury front.
Meanwhile, the Eagles home fixture against Featherstone Rovers has been moved. The match at the OLP will now take place on Saturday 23rd June, kick off 3pm. The match was switched from the Sunday to avoid a clash with England’s World Cup fixture with Panama.