SHEFFIELD Eagles boss Mark Aston has insisted Sunday’s clash with Halifax at Bramall Lane is just another game for the South Yorkshire side, saying he has “moved on” from the Sam Barlow affair.
There are just four days to go before the teams meet for the first time since last season’s explosive final eliminator at the Shay.
Barlow, the former Eagles forward who rejoined Fax last summer, scored a try as his hometown team booked their Grand Final place with a 42-16 win, despite a gentleman’s agreement that he would not face his former club in 2010.
Fax subsequently apologised and paid the Eagles an unspecified cash settlement.
But Aston claimed he would not take any extra satisfaction from keeping Matt Calland’s win-less champions at the foot of the Co-operative Championship this weekend.
“It’s just another three points at stake,” said Aston, whose side have won twice in three starts, with back-to-backsuccesses over York and Toulouse.
“You want to win every game because that is what you prepare for during the week, it doesn’t matter whether it is Halifax or whoever.
“Sam Barlow will play, just like he did last time, and that’s that.
“It was morally wrong for him to play that night and I will never change that view.
“But I have moved on, Sunday is another game and another dollar.
“Halifax have had a tough start with Toulouse and Featherstone, but they have plenty of quality in their side and they are going to start picking up points sooner rather than later.”
Aston was checking on the fitness of winger Danny Mills, but is otherwise free of injury concerns as his team look to make it three on the trot.
“You always aim to improve year on year, and for us that is going to be tough because we got within 80 minutes of the Grand Final last season,” said Aston.
“We’ve lost some players in key positions like Brendon Lindsay and Craig Cook, but we’ve got Andrew Henderson in and young Kyle Wood is playing very well too.
“I was disappointed with how we went about our business in the first game against Widnes but we’ve done okay since then.”
Wigan are making efforts to get England international Gareth Hock back in training two months before his drugs ban expires.
The 27-year-old second row forward is suspended until June 23 after testing positive for cocaine in 2009 but the Super League champions are being given the chance to present their case to a sports barrister in London next week.
Under the terms of his two-year ban, Hock was forced to sever all contact with Wigan, although he has been keeping himself fit under the guidance of a personal trainer.
At Wigan’s request, a consultation has been arranged by the Rugby Football League, in conjunction with UK Anti-Doping who say they will raise no objection if Adam Lewis QC rules there is nothing to be gained from preventing the player from making an early return to training.
The Warriors are using a precedent set in football to try to get Hock back into the fold, arguing that in team sports it is harder for players to get back up to speed once they have served suspensions.