Rugby League: Eagles ready for Owlerton homecoming

Rugby League
Rugby League

Life begins again at Owlerton for Sheffield Eagles and the players will have to learn fast about their new home.

Sunday’s game against Barrow Raiders will be the first time most of the squad have seen the greyhound stadium.

To help them settle in, coach Mark Aston has run training on a specially marked out pitch that mirrors the dimensions of the new playing area.

“The pitch is a bit smaller and it’s a different sort of challenge and we have to make we adapt,” said Aston who played much of his early career at Owlerton. “We have trained there but we have talked a lot to the players about it. We’ll turn up on Sunday and class every game as an away game until we get used to the pitch.”

The Eagles brought professional rugby league to the city at Owlerton in 1984 but have spent the last 25 seasons at the ill-fated Don Valley Stadium.

Sunday’s game sees a switch to a regular 2pm kick-off time and supporters can watch from standing terraces or the stadium’s bars and restaurants.

Since the move to Owlerton was confirmed last November it’s been a race against time to get the pitch back to the standard needed for rugby league.

The opening fixture against Rochdale – a rerun of the club’s first ever game - fell victim to the winter storms.

Eagles started their defence of their Championship title with a 30-16 win at Swinton Lions. After a stuttering first 40 minutes they took the game with four tries in the second half.

Barrow narrowly avoided relegation last season and under new coach Anthony Murray have lost their first two games.

“It’s desperation for some clubs with five teams going down this season but Barrow are quite capable of pushing us close,” said Aston. “We have to be focused, professional and respectful and improve on last weekend.”