Sheffield Eagles v Hull FC: The Challenge Cup tie two years in the making
Exactly 24 months ago, the Eagles drew the Airlie Birds at this stage of the competition, only for the Covid pandemic to force society to go into lockdown and rugby league to temporarily cease.
Homeless back then – and still homeless now as they wait to return to Sheffield at the Olympic Legacy Park in May – Sheffield would have welcomed Hull to their temporary home of Doncaster. As it is, today, two years on, they finally welcome Hull to Featherstone.
“It frustrated us that little bit more when Covid forced the game to shut down,” begins Mark Aston, the Eagles’ long-standing head coach.
“These are the games you dream about as a player and as a club you can make a few quid out of them.
“It would have been nice two years ago. We got the draw but then Covid strikes and you don’t play it.
“So to get it again is nice and hopefully we can put a show on.”
Sheffield Eagles certainly feel confident of doing that, particularly after scoring nearly 200 points in their last four games.
But their nomadic existence – regardless of the fact it is something they have gotten used to over the years – can still take its toll, particularly after playing games in Workington, North Wales and Whitehaven the last three weekends.
“We’ve had to be really good on managing levels,” says Aston, who gave his players Tuesday night off to help them recover from the round-trip to Whitehaven on Sunday, meaning they have only trained twice this week.
“Fingers crossed, it hasn’t taken too much out of them and we’ve still got a bit more in the tank.”