Sheffield Eagles: Knowles takes over from Hirst

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Michael Knowles is to be handed a key role at loose-forward for Sheffield Eagles as they kick off their season tomorrow.

He’ will switch from the second row to cover for regular 13 Joe Hirst, who is out with a knee injury.

Coach Mark Aston believes Knowles is ideally suited to a “freer role”: “”Michael is a very talented footballer and I’ve said to him that his best position is 13; he needs to get his head around that.

“”He has a kicking game, a passing game and he’’s an intelligent footballer and at 13 he gets a bit of a free role. We need him to settle into it.””

A waterlogged pitch at Owlerton forced the postponement of the opening game and Aston wants the boost of a win over Swinton at Leigh Sports Village, kick-off 3pm.

Hirst has joined prop forward Eddie Battye as the long-term injured.

Aston said: “”He needs his knee sorting out, it’’s a long-term thing and needs surgery.” There is cover in the back row with Peter Green, Duane Straugheir, Matt Garside and loan signing Will Hope, from Salford.