Rugby League finally returns to Sheffield this weekend, and how Sheffield Eagles could do with a homecoming to remember following a fourth straight defeat.
The extra incentive of returning to the Steel City might just be the tonic required for Mark Aston’s flock, as the Eagles look to arrest their early season blues after their latest setback against Featherstone Rovers.
It was never going to be easy, but the Eagles have made a habit of defying the odds in recent years – despite being without a permanent home following 2013’s departure from the now demolished Don Valley Stadium.
Their new home is the phoenix from the Don Valley ruins. The Olympic Legacy Park may not be fully completed until 2019, but for now it will do. It’s Sheffield. It’s home.
The question is can Aston’s side turn their new residence into a fortress? They’ll need all the help necessary as their new look squad host leaders London Broncos, with the Eagles still searching for their first points of the campaign.
“We have to get used to the OLP as well and learn the surroundings there,” Aston told the Telegraph. We have to get used to our own pitch, and the weather has to turn for us as well. We will come okay in the end, but we know we are in the middle of a tough month. We need some results and some performances. The big thing though is just getting back to Sheffield. We have been out and it’s been tough. We need to get the excitement, the fans, the sponsors - we need them all back and help us get to some of the things that we were achieving a few years ago. That starts now.
“The task last year was keeping rugby league alive. The task now is re-establishing it back in the city and it is a challenge we are relishing.”
The current situation must be put into context.
Aston is still knitting together an almost brand new side, and after two close defeats to open the season, they have now hit a run of games against sides which will almost certainly be pitching for a top four place.
After heavy defeats to Toulouse and Featherstone, the visit of London who will be closely followed by big spending Toronto.
It may get worse before it gets better for Aston, but despite shipping 50 points in successive outings, the long-serving club stalwart remains optimistic about their long term prospects, believing if his side get it right, they are still capable of taking on any team in the division.
“The next three weeks are going to be tough, we have to play some very good teams,” he added. London are next and they are used to playing on a pitch which we have as it is very similar to their own. There are some challenges ahead. We go into every game believing we can win. We prepare to win.”
Meanwhile, trialist Jordan Tansey has joined Workington Town after turning down an offer from the Eagles.