Sheffield Eagles boss Mark Aston believes the odds are “stacked against us” ahead of his side’s trip to Toulouse in today’s Championship Shield Final.
The Eagles director of rugby, who turned 50 on Wednesday, had little time to celebrate as he took his underdogs to France in search of silverware.
As a part-time team, organising and paying for flights back to France, plus hotel rooms and time off from the players’ day jobs, has not been easy.
Winger Ben Blakcmore even had to quit his day job, just to get time off to travel this weekend while PNG’s Mark Mexico struggled to obtain a visa.
“It is all stacked against us,” Aston said. “We have to travel to Toulouse again which is a joke if I am honest.
“Ben Blackmore has actually had to pack his job in so he can play in this final. That shows the commitment from him. The game needs to have a look at that though because it is an absolute disgrace that somebody has had to walk away from a job just to play the game.
“We are part-time, they are full-time, so they have the greater resources. Why can’t they come over here?”
Sheffield jetted over to France yesterday, meaning an overnight stop as they build-up to the final in the south of France, following last week’s surprise win at Batley Bulldogs.
“We will be going the day before this time which is a positive,” he added.
“We will get there at around 4pm so at least we should get a good rest and prepare correctly for the game.
“It is still a long way and it still requires players taking days off which is tough, but we have go before to properly prepare.”