Sheffield had a tough win against Whitehaven last weekend “on probably the worst pitch I’ve ever seen,” according to Director of Rugby Mark Aston.
“We did really, really well,” he said. “It was a leveller and we couldn’t play the football that we like to play but what I did like was that we toughed it out and the attitude and resilience of the group pulled us through.”
Looking ahead to this weekend he said: “Batley have started the season pretty well. There are four players there who played for Sheffield Eagles and John Kear coached here as well so there’s a bit of spice in there. The players will want to show me that I was wrong to let them go.
“They are playing with confidence and they work hard for each other and look like they’re enjoying themselves, which is the be-all and end-all as far as I’m concerned.”
Batley coach John Kear said the defeat to Halifax was very physically demanding for his players: “Our players gave it 100 per cent and it was a very physical energy-draining game. All those things are being considered in our preparation and selection for this week,” he said.
On their challenge at Sheffield he added: “People are talking about Featherstone and Halifax for the fourth spot but I’ve always had a slight fancy for Sheffield. They’ve made some really shrewd recruitments and are playing this year on a pitch which suits them. I can see them coming up on the rails and getting that fourth spot – that’s how big the task is.”
Kear could be without James Craven for a while, the full-back having damaged his medial collateral knee ligament.