Life in the Betfred Championship has been tough for Sheffield Eagles this season, and coach Mark Aston says they must find a way to improve the squad with the division only going to get tougher.
Aston has kept an eye on the race for promotion from League One with Bradford and York the hot favourites to ascend into the second-tier.
Both would be expected to enjoy a much healthier budget than most in the Championship, leaving the Eagles in no doubt that they must find a way to compete if they are to remain in the division for when their Olympic Legacy Park Stadium is completed in 2020.
The Eagles are looking to have their transfer business completed much earlier this year, with Aston already making progress behind the scenes as his squad looks set for an overhaul for 2019.
The experienced coach has acknowledged it may get tougher next season, but remains confident his recruitment will be good enough for a much more competitive Eagles next term.
“It isn't going to get any easier next season, we know that,” Aston said.
“What's the competition going to look like? Is there going to be two teams coming up in Bradford and York? They will spend money and invest that’s for sure. That means it will get a little tougher next year, so we need to be stronger.
“We have to knuckle down and start with the hard grind of getting competitive, it can’t come quick enough. We need to have the right mental attitude that when we are in these tough games, and we are in the arm-wrestle for 30 minutes, we need to be able to turn it to 50 and 60 minutes.”
The Eagles travel to Batley Bulldogs this weekend for their final away fixture of the campaign, and can take heart from their display in defeat to Featherstone last week.
Aston’s side showed signs of the improved mental approach he has spoken about after a good display in the first-half, but they crucially failed to turn their pressure into points.
“We didn't drain them enough, we let them off the hook and that’s what I said to them after the game,” Aston added.
“That's happened a few times this season, and we’ll be looking to improve on that. We have been in games and then we have lost our way.”