Most of Sheffield Eagles’ transfer incomings for the 2016 season are in the earlier stages of their career.
Players such as former Leeds Rhinos back-rower Elliot Minchella and three-quarters Garry Lo and Ben Blackmore have signed on the dotted line.
Sheffield coach Mark Aston has seen a lot of change to his squad going into the new campaign, with key players like Eddie Battye, Dom Brambani and Tony Tonks leaving for fellow Championship clubs.
Experience has also arrived in the shape of prop forward Scott Wheeldon and utility forward Matt James to name just two.
This leaves us with the question: can Sheffield make the top four for yet another year?
One thing Aston has to his advantage is that the Eagles are now a full-time club. Ever since Sheffield merged with Huddersfield back in 1999, the newly formed Eagles have always tried to bring through young, local players. Mitch Stringer, who first came to the club in 2003, and Cory Aston are perfect examples of the Eagles’ youth policy working well.
In the early years of the millennium, bringing through young players came with a lack of success but that didn’t deter the Eagles who have since gone on to become one of the most successful second tier teams in recent years.
Now in 2016, a new batch of youngsters have been welcomed to South Yorkshire in hope of writing a new chapter in the club’s history, and carrying on the high standards that are usually achieved.
Matty Fozard and Dave Hewitt have joined from St Helens as well as the versatile George Tyson from Oldham. Featherstone winger Blackmore will provide grit and determination while PNG flyer Lo will be aiming to make an impact that’s on par with fellow countryman Menzie Yere.
With full-time training helping to fine-tune their respective games, as well as gaining the help of seasoned professionals like Stringer, Michael Knowles and Quentin Laulu-Togagae, the Eagles fans will be excited to see how their younger players progress as the season goes on.
Sheffield have constantly proved critics wrong when they have had their backs against the wall. They may even get written off again by numerous people before the start of the season.
However, the young players will get more confident in a Sheffield shirt game after game, and the experience that’s also in the camp will be a fine complement. Anything other than a top four finish will come as a disappointment to the steel city side