Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston believes that the club’s new full-time status will start paying dividends ahead of Sunday’s Championship opener with Workington.
The Eagles are set for their first season as a full-time club in 2016 and have hopes of making the Qualifiers for a second consecutive year.
Their first test is in the shape of Workington. 2015 was the first year the Eagles won both of their regular season fixtures in Cumbria since their promotion to the Championship in 2007, which coincided with the team making the trip north the night before the match.
Aston believes the opportunity to replicate last year’s schedule now they’re full-time will boost their chances.
“We prepared correctly and stayed over the night before,” Aston told TotalRL.
“That’s a massive thing for you because the journey isn’t a great one. Getting up there and eating and having a bit of time together, having time to get up relaxed in the morning and preparing correctly is always going to be key.”
Despite the luxury of full-time status, Aston is adamant that the Eagles must show Workington the respect they deserve.
“It is going to be a very tough match on a narrow pitch with plenty of mud on it,” he said.
“I think some teams take them lightly. At the end of the day, they’re a big team, they challenge you a bit and if you’re not on it or have your best foot forward they are a danger.
“They have some big guys up front and some good guys on the wings. If we’re not respectful of them and not on our game we could come unstuck.
“We’re taking them seriously, we’ve trained for three months in a full-time environment to get where we want to get to and we need to go there respectful and mindful that they’re going to be up for it more than ever now.
“We’re there to be shot at. People will look and say we’re full-time so let’s go and get them. But I’m sure we’ll start the season as we mean to go on.”
Meanwhile, Aston confirmed that Sheffield’s 2015 player of the year Steve Thorpe has recovered from injury in time to feature.