FEATHERSTONE’S on-loan half-back Cory Aston will play in Sunday’s home Championship game against his old club Sheffield Eagles who are coached by his father Mark.
The 22-year-old, who joined Leeds Rhinos from Sheffield, did not play in Featherstone’s 47-22 win over the Eagles at Belle Vue, Wakefield, last month but he has since become a key man for Rovers, scoring 76 points in their last five games.
He has played alongside Featherstone’s other ex-Sheffield players Misi Taulapapa, John Davies, Michael Knowles and Scott Turner.
The Eagles have improved since Featherstone last played them, winning four of their last five matches, and Rovers coach Jon Sharp is gearing up for a tough test this weekend.
“I think some people seem to write off Sheffield too easily but I definitely don’t. They are a good team and they are well coached,” said Sharp.
“They work hard for each other and they are always physical affairs as well so we’ve got to be ready for that and pick the right team.
“It almost feels a like a derby game when we play Sheffield and there’s a bit of spice there. I don’t think it will be any different this week.
“We know we need to be really good to beat them and we can’t afford to go down to 12 men because they will punish us for that.
“We were really good when we played them at Belle Vue and our attacking play, particularly, was really outstanding.
“It will be hard to replicate that again and I also think Sheffield are in better form now than they were then. They are a bit more consistent so I’m expecting it to be tougher this Sunday.”
Sharp believes Rovers are benefiting from firmer pitches now the weather has improved.
“The conditions were frustrating for us earlier this season particularly at home but the groundsman has done a good job and the field had dried out and it’s really suiting how we want to play.
“We like to play expansise rugby and throw the ball around.
“Our pivots are playing well. They are all in good form and confident so that gives the team some good structure in attack.
“Matty Wildie has been outstanding this year and Cory Aston has come in and been revelation for us. Keal Carlile has improved game on game so we are in good form.”
The Rovers boss has also been pleased with Ian Hardman and Michael Knowles.
“I think Ian Hardman is having his best year. His all round game has just been outstanding at a high consistent level all year,” he added.
“Michael Knowles is a smart player and we are starting to see some of the things he is capable of. He has certainly got some potential and I think he can be even better.”
Sharp praised his side’s defensive efforts in last Sunday’s 30-4 win over Oldham especially after they were reduced to 12 men with Chris Ulugia’s first-half sin-binning.
“We’ve defended well all year. We’ve had a couple of blips but on the whole we’ve been really good,” he said.
“We defended manfully to keep out Oldham.
“I thought we handled being a man down really well. We controlled the ball a little bit better during that period.
“Unfortunately, we have been down to 12 men for the last two or three weeks. It’s not something I want to get used it.”
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