Eagles ready to fly again, vows Blake

Newcastle Eagles' chief Paul Blake insists the club can defend their four trophies this season - despite operating on a reduced player budget.

Newcastle Eagles' chief Paul Blake insists the club can defend their four trophies this season - despite operating on a reduced player budget.

Supporters still eagerly anticipating replacements for the influential Andrew Sullivan and Charles Smith are set to be disappointed as Blake and player-coach Flournoy continue with their final preparations ahead of the new campaign.

Managing director Blake said: "This season will be one when we will still be challenging on all fronts and defending the four trophies we won last year.

"However, there will also be that part of the task which involves us rebuilding and admitting we will not have the kind of resources we enjoyed last season.

"Andrew Sullivan was here in part due to central funding while Charles Smith was drafted in mid-season thanks to financial support from the Arena, which also gave us a huge boost."

Fans of the Springfield Honda-backed club will at least be heartened by the sight of five returnees.

Some have continued to call for the return of a sixth in the form of Jeremy Hyatt, although this is unlikely to happen - at least for the time being.

Hyatt could well have been back on board had sufficient resources been available but the club have been left counting the cost of offering improved deals to those who have already put pen to paper.

Blake explained: "In making the decision to bring back key players from last year's successful team we have had to accept we this was going to cost us more money.

"This has also had an impact on our budget and the delicate balancing act Fab has had to do in putting his team together.

"There was an option to start over and rebuild the team completely but, having decided to bring back a number of the guys, we are hoping continuity will help us and ensure we are strong enough to be able to challenge on all fronts."

It would appear that, with just over a fortnight to go until the big tip-off, there are still issues to be resolved with Blake and Flournoy looking to secure a power forward or centre in the next few days.

They may also opt for another small forward or even a guard, their decision to be linked to whether Perry Lawson gets a new contract.

However, it is looking increasingly likely the young guard may be left searching for a deal elsewhere.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer