Rugby league: Perfect farewell for Eagles old guard

Victory joy for the Eagles against the Wildcats
Victory joy for the Eagles against the Wildcats

Director of rugby Mark Aston believes that Sunday’s victory over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats was the perfect end to a successful chapter in the history of Sheffield Eagles.

Aston revealed after the game that Misi Taulapapa was the 11th player to be leaving the club as the Eagles prepare to step up to a full-time operation in November.

A host of players have enjoyed several years of success alongside Aston, which includes two Grand Final wins, and the Eagles chief admitted that the stunning victory over Super League opposition on Sunday was a fitting way for several stellar names to end their Eagles career.

“We were outstanding and we knew we could do it,” said Aston. “We ended with what we deserved. We have had a cracking group of people who have enjoyed the most successful season here as far as I’m concerned, as the new Sheffield Eagles, and we have signed off with a massive amount of pride, passion, will, want and desire.

“A lot of these guys have been here for a long time so it has been very emotional and I thought you could see that in the performance against Wakefield.”

Aston, who celebrated his 48th birthday in style, cut an emotional figure at full-time at Bramall Lane, as he waved goodbye to a number of players who have served him well over many years.

The Eagles have a busy recruitment drive ahead, but for Aston it was all about the old guard signing off with a bang.

“It doesn’t get any better than that, signing off with a win over a Super League side,” he added.

“I am immensely proud of this group, as I have been all year. We haven’t been the best team all the time, but to sign off with a performance like that in our own city in a great facility was terrific. The players so much wanted to sign off with a victory and they did, it was absolutely massive.

“It was an emotional day from minute one when we had the team talk. When I went out of the dressing room I didn’t go back in because I did the talk to the sponsors and I got a bit choked.

“Sometimes you don’t need to say anything. It was an emotional time and a draining day, but it was certainly a fitting end to this chapter for the club.”