Cup mission awaits Eagles over the next fortnight

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Sheffield Eagles’ coach Mark Aston has switched his team’s focus from league points to Cup glory.

Eagles face a double-header of KO competitions with Halifax in the Challenge Cup fifth round on Friday followed a week later by the opening round of the Northern Rail. “The league is put to bed for the next couple of weeks” he said. “We can make a name for ourselves and get into the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and we’ve got the Northern Rail the week after.”

A win over Halifax at Don Valley Stadium on Friday would give Eagles a place in the quarter-finals for the first time since they dropped out of the Super League. “It’s exciting, they are two of the top teams in the Championship – so we have to go out and give it a go,” he added.

The following weekend the Eagles face Barrow Raiders in the Northern Rail Cup, the competition for professional clubs below Super League.

Aston has paid tribute to the leadership qualities of Misi Taulapapa as the team’s new vice-captain.

Aston said: “Misi was outstanding, really strong.”

He added: “It is what you want from a vice captain.

“Since we gave him the job I don’t think he’s made a mistake. He’s said: ‘I’m a leader, follow me’.

Reserve hooker Pat Smith had mixed fortunes on his loan debut with Gloucestershire All Golds. Smith scored a try but faces a ban for allegedly hitting an opposition player.

Former Eagles star Daryl Powell has been appointed head coach of Super League Castleford Tigers. Powell, who has been in charge at Featherstone Rovers for five years, played 312 games for the Eagles between 1984 and 1995.