SEVEN MONTHS after signing for Leeds Rhinos Cory Aston will finally get a chance to show what he can do on Headingley’s big stage, but not in the circumstances he was expecting.
Aston is on loan at Featherstone Rovers and will play against Rhinos in tonight’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final.
The 22-year-old joined Rhinos from Sheffield Eagles in the closed-season, but has yet to play a senior game and has spent most of the campaign at Rovers.
He has been recalled to Featherstone’s initial 19-man squad after two matches on the sidelines and realises he has a golden opportunity to prove he can stand out at the top level.
“I am really looking forward to it,” Aston said of the Cup derby.
“I have been watching all the [Leeds home] games and I am getting a chance to play at Headingley on a Friday night.
“It is not for my parent club, but it is a good chance for me.
“It is a big occasion and an historic occasion, being the Challenge Cup and it is an opportunity to showcase what I’ve got to the coaching staff, the fans and my team-mates.”
Aston usually trains with Leeds at the start of the week before linking up with Rovers, who are part-time, nearer game day.
The loan arrangement allows Aston to learn off Leeds’ players and coaching staff and also gain regular game time in a tough competition.
“You can’t pick up enough off people like Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire and Joel Moon,” he said of his Rhinos clubmates.
“The amount of big games Rob and Magsy have played in is unbelievable.
“I am picking up a lot off them about how they approach games and training. They are the ultimate professionals.”
But, with a place in the semi-finals at stake, that has been put on hold leading up to tonight’s game.
Aston admitted: “There’s been a bit of banter from the boys over the last few weeks.
“I was allowed in [at Leeds] on Monday for a debrief from the weekend, but I’ve not been allowed in for the rest of the week!”
Rovers are fourth in the Kingstone Press Championship and Aston reckons the loan arrangement is working well for all parties.
“At the start of the season I was getting a bit frustrated because I only played once in 10 weeks,” he recalled.
“At the minute I am happy at Featherstone, it’s a really good bunch of boys and I’m enjoying my rugby, but I still want to break through at Leeds. That’s my long-term goal. I’d like to get at least one game this year, but if not I will go again next year.
“All I can do is play to the best of my ability for Fev and hopefully I can impress the coaching staff and get an opportunity.”
Rovers will be huge underdogs tonight, but Aston insisted they are not just in the tie to make up the numbers.
“We’re approaching it like any other game and I am sure Leeds will be doing the same,” he said. “Both teams will be playing to win. There’s a lot of upsets in the Challenge Cup – Fev beat Castleford a few years ago and pushed Wigan close. We [Rovers] have been going really well this year. We’ve had a good Cup run and we’re not looking for that to end.”