Sheffield pair eye Blackpool final

Sheffield Eagles’ South Sea Islanders Aaron Groom and Misi Taulapapa have set their sights on a trip to the seaside ahead of the Northern Rail Cup quarter-final clash against Batley Bulldogs at Mount Pleasant on Saturday June 6.

Fiji international Groom said: “I’ve not been to Blackpool before but I’ve heard plenty about it. I haven’t seen the sea in a while so it would be great to get there.

“It’s always exciting to be involved in finals football. We’re getting really excited about this because we had a good start to the Northern Rail Cup and it was one of our aims at the start of the year.”

Samoa Test player Taulapapa added: “The Northern Rail Cup is one of the biggest things for Sheffield. It’s a big deal for us, and with us moving to Bramall Lane it’s made a big impact on the city.

“Going well in the Northern Rail Cup would really help us to kick on.

“I’ve heard so much from the boys about Blackpool and the final itself, and I’ve seen some of the coverage from Sky from last year. It looks like a great day and a real carnival for Rugby League. It would be great to be involved this time.”

Standing between Sheffield and a place in the last four are opponents they beat 22-12 earlier in the month and Groom is wary of a backlash heading into Sunday’s game.

“Batley were really tough opposition. It was a close game and they had us 12-0 down at one stage. I’m sure they’ll have got plenty of confidence going into this game,” said Groom.

“They’re not too flash but they come at you hard and fast and do it for 80 minutes. Some teams you can break down, but they just kept coming at us.”

Groom arrived in England 18 months ago and despite an injury-hit first season, the former Canterbury Bulldogs half-back is now beginning to find his feet with the Eagles.

“It’s been good, it took a little while to settle in, but this year I’m feeling much more comfortable,” said the 22-year old.

“Last year I’d play a couple of games and then get an injury but this time around I’m getting much more game time.”

Taluapapa joined the Eagles in February after a two-year spell with Cronulla Sharks and admits that he has had a rather different introduction to his new life in England.

The winger said: “I arrived pretty late in the winter when it was still snowing. It was the first time I’d ever seen snow in my life and I can remember playing a game when it was minus-three degrees – that was a bit of a shock to the system. 

“I’m really enjoying it here and things have been going really well.

“It’s like a family and a brotherhood here. There’s a good feel amongst the boys and we all get on well.

“Everyone knows that Mark has been here for so long and he knows everyone inside out and I think that’s a part of what keeps us together.”

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