Championship Preview: Sheffield Eagles

James Gordon

When people talk about the top teams in the Championship, and those most likely to make a march for Super League in 2012, Sheffield are often forgotten.

They shouldn’t be. But Mark Aston probably quite likes that. A third place finish in 2009 was no coincidence and shows that their Super League dream could yet become a realistic ambition.

Aaron Groom and Brendon Lindsay’s blossoming partnership is crucial to the side’s fortunes – there’s certainly no shortage of flair and finishing power elsewhere on the pitch. The mere sight of an Eagles team-sheet containing names like Menzie Yere, Misi Tualapapa, Jonny Woodcock and Ashley Thackeray is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most opposing supporters.

They could even afford to be without star man Groom for virtually half of the season and still make in roads, but ultimately they will be disappointed with the way their season ended – a disappointing home play-off defeat to Featherstone.

A move to Bramall Lane is imminent, after a few games at their previous Don Valley home, and this season will be about getting the people of Sheffield behind a team, which includes exciting talent in the shape of Johnny Woodcock, Menzie Yere and Tangi Ropati.

As with Toulouse, continuity could also be key for the Eagles. While many around them have chopped and changed their squad almost unrecognisably, Aston has retained the bulk of his 2009 squad, ready for a tilt at a Northern Rail Cup triumph and the end of season Grand Final.

Prediction: 4th
Key man: Aaron Groom