Sheffield’s Eddie Battye better for spell in France

Sheffield Eagles prop Eddie Battye believes that he has returned from a spell in French rugby league a much better and more mature player.

The 21-year-old went out to sample life in France with the Villeneuve Leopards, who finished the season in seventh place in the French Elite 1.

He has returned from France and immediately claimed a spot in the Eagles front row, turning in an impressive, try-scoring performance against Halifax on Friday evening at Bramall Lane.

“The aim was for it to work as development thing over there,” he told Love Rugby League.

“I was playing reserve grade over here and I wasn’t benefiting much from it, but I couldn’t get into the team.

“Obviously last year we won the Championship, so opportunities were limited for me. No qualms about that, I just couldn’t get into the team.

“So I had to go away, work on my game, get bigger and stronger, and get my work in contact a lot better.

“I’ve come back and hit the ground running, and he [Eagles coach Mark Aston] has given me a chance.”

One of the aims of the exercise was to help the young front rower mature off the field as well as on it.

“It was good living out there,” Battye added.

“I’ve been here at the Eagles since I was a kid, and I wanted to go away and come back better.

“I didn’t want to be thought of as kid again. I wanted to be an established first team player. But there’s a lot of work to do until I’m that.”

As for the standard of the French competition, Battye was very impressed with what he saw, though he feels that there is some room for improvement in the standard of coaching across the Channel.

“It’s littered full of ex-NRL players, ex-Super League players, but there are a few good French kids too,” he explained.

“They’re raw. The coaching’s not the best. But it’s developing over there.

“A lot of the teams have a lot of foreign players, but the Catalan feeder team UTC are all French and they’re a sharp team – I think they finished second in the comp.”

Meanwhile, Battye is also pleased to playing in a side which features the attacking talents of Quentin Laulu-Togagae, as well as some other outstanding backs.

“It’s great. As long as we get a platform, Q, Misi Taulapapa, Menzie Yere and the halfbacks will throw it about a bit,” he said.

“We like to do that and it looks great. We can beat anyone doing it.”

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