Sheffield Eagles: Visa issues blight build-up to Shield final with Toulouse

Mark Mexico
Mark Mexico

Sheffield Eagles latest pilgrimage to Toulouse has again run into problems ahead of Saturday’s Championship Shield Final.

After being forced to travel and play on the same day on their last visit, this time around director of rugby Mark Aston has to contend with a potential visa issue for PNG ace Mark Mexico.

Mexico’s participation is hanging in the balance, whilst Aston also confirmed that winger Ben Blackmore has quit his job after being unable to take anymore time off in order to travel on the Friday.

The Eagles face a race against time in order to sort out Mexico’s visa issues, leaving Aston upset that they have to again travel to the south of France.

“It is all stacked against us,” Aston told The Star.

“We have to travel to Toulouse again which is a joke if I am honest. Ben Blackmore has actually had to pack his job in so he can play in this final. That shows the commitment from him.

“The game needs to have a look at that though because it is an absolute disgrace that somebody has had to walk away from a job just to play the game.

“We are part-time, they are full-time, so they have the greater resources. Why can’t they come over here?”

“We have a potential issue with Mark Mexico regarding his visa.

“We are fighting away to sort out the issues so we can get Mark on the plane. It isn’t confirmed yet, and we have our work cut out. We are fighting to get it done but it isn’t easy.”

The Eagles put in a credible display last time out despite the travel disruption which heavily hampered their preparations.

The one plus for Aston, who turned 50 on Wednesday, is the flights have been arranged to include an overnight stop, giving him the required time to have his team ready as they look to cause another upset after their semi-final success against Batley.

“We will be going the day before this time which is a positive,” he added.

“We will get there at around 4pm so at least we should get a good rest and prepare correctly for the game. It is still a long way and it still requires players taking days off which is tough, but we have go before to properly prepare.”

Kick off on Saturday is 2.30pm BST, 3.30pm local time.