Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston must balance his desire to give youth a chance with the need for Championship points.
In an increasingly tight battle for the league leader’s shield, he’s ready to chance a team that, if unconvincing at times, keeps winning.
The Eagles development system is producing young players who are making a case for a first team chance.
That was a factor in Aston deciding not to make any move for loan players to boost the squad in the final weeks of the season.
“Were not bringing in any more players, the deadline is gone. I want to see the kids at a higher level,” said Aston.
“You must have a belief in your young players. The Scholarship and Academy have beaten Super League squads in the last couple of weeks.
“We are doing this for all the right reasons to develop our own players.”
Aston showed his hand by giving his teenage son Cory his league debut off the bench, in last night’s game against Workington Town.
Also in the 19 were forwards Connor Scott and Leigh Sanders, and they could get their chance when the Eagles travel to York Knights on Sunday.
Half-back Cory, 18, played his first senior game against an amateur team in the Challenge Cup in April, scoring two tries.
“These lads are playing well and deserve their chance,” said Aston.
“Connor has already had a couple of first team games and Leigh looks strong and ready.
“Cory has been outstanding for the Academy – he’s a young kid with an old head.
“I know it’s a step up but we’ve got big games coming up and I need to see where these lads are.”
The Eagles came back from their Northern Rail Cup final defeat to Leigh with a 34-10 victory over Keighley Cougars in the first of three games in ten days.
Sparkling attacking rugby produced four first half tries from Menzie Yere, Patch Walker, Tom Armstrong and Joe Hirst.
The second half, despite tries from Misi Taulapapa and Quentin Laulu-Togagae went flat.
Aston said: “If the referee had ended the game at half-time I’d have been happy.
“The second half was messy and we’ll have to be a lot better that that.
“I was very disappointed with a number of people.
“But there are people in the squad I can bring in and we need to stay fresh.”
The final six league games start with a trip to relegation-threatened York on Sunday followed by a chance to gain revenge for the Rail Cup defeat when Leigh come to Don Valley.
Aston said: “We have to show we can keep control of games when we go ahead.
“We’re only playing 40 minutes or 60 minutes now and we need to go for an 80-minute performance.”