Aston’s Eagles ‘blessed’ by PNG presence

Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston is delighted to have a strong Papua New Guinea contingent at his club for the 2016 campaign.

Prop Mark Mexico and winger Garry Lo have joined established centre Menzie Yere in the Steel City for this season, and Aston loves the challenges of managing players from such a different culture.

“We had it first-hand with Menzie Yere six years ago, and he’s certainly a different character now,” he told Love Rugby League.

“But he’s still quiet, and he’s still very shy, as we’re finding out with Mark Mexico and Garry Lo.

“But I’ve got to say that we’ve had lots of Pacific players, Samoans as well, and we’re blessed with them.

“Menzie’s life skills have certainly changed. He’s getting better, fitter and stronger.

“He’s not missed a training session this pre-season, and, worryingly for the other clubs, he’s looking in the best shape he’s ever been in, and he’s getting older – he’s like wine.

“It helps when you’ve got Menzie who’s been here six years.”

Lo left Newcastle Thunder under something of a cloud last year, with the player fleeing the club and returning to PNG during the season.

That is all in the past for Aston now, who is expecting good things from both Lo and Mexico.

“Garry Lo didn’t handle it last year,” he said.

“He thought he was coming into a full-time environment and he didn’t get that.

“He’s come into a full-time environment now and it’s different.

“He’s a natural athlete. He’s 98 kilos, he’s a bull. When I first saw him I thought it was Henderson Gill, with the socks rolled down and that!

“He scores tries, he’s quick and he’s explosive.

Mark Mexico is very shy and timid for a big man.

“Garry Lo is 22, and Mark is 27, so they’ve still got their best years in front of them.”

Aston is also proud of his record of managing players from the Pacific, with the Eagles also having had players in their ranks from Samoa in recent seasons.

“People have talked in the past about PNG players being hard to handle,” he smiled.

“I must be doing okay because they’re not causing me any problems.

“Garry is living with his missus, Mark’s fetching his missus over. I hadn’t had one ounce of a problem.”

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