LEEDS RHINOS Brian McDermott admits new signing Cory Aston will start 2017 with Featherstone Rovers but believes the young half-back has a big future in Super League due to his sheer “smartness.”
The 21-year-old joined from Championship side Sheffield Eagles for an undisclosed fee in November and has settled in well at Headingley, according to his head coach.
Although he has the likes of Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Liam Sutcliffe and Jordan Lilley to fight past for a place in Leeds Rhinos’ creative hub, he has the ability to do so in the campaign ahead.
“He could do. Absolutely. He’s not a filler,” said McDermott.
“He’s a smart fella. Obviously he’s the son of Mark Aston and he was one of the smartest half-backs our country has seen.
“I’m talking smart as in the ability to read what the opposition are doing and counter that.
“He was very good in that regard Mark Aston and Corey has a bit of that about him so he talks with a mature head on him.
“It’s good to have conversations with him about the game. He’s settled in well.
“He is going to ply his trade with Featherstone but first off he’s got to break into Featherstone’s team.
“That’s his first task and it’s very clear to him. His ultimate goal is to wear the blue and amber but he has a job on to break into the Featherstone side initially.”
The player developed his game under his father at Sheffield, Aston Senior having famously masterminded the biggest Challenge Cup final upset in history when Sheffield defeated Wigan Warriors at Wembley in 1998.
As head coach at the South Yorkshire club, the former Great Britain scrum-half has overseen his son’s progress with the Eagles in the second tier where he scored 31 tries in 69 games and it is no surprise he is now readied to try his luck in Super League.
Coincidently, the only other British team his dad played for was Featherstone where he spent a solitary season in 1994-95.
Aston will go there on dual-registration in 2017 but will face stiff competition from Anthony Thackeray and former Eagles team-mate Kyle Briggs for a starting spot in the side who reached the Qualifiers last season.
However, having signed a two-year deal, his long-term future is undoubtedly at Headingley especially with club legends McGuire – who turns 34 today – and Burrow, already 34, in the latter stages of their careers. McDermott conceded: “The better the game gets and the more it’s coached and the more defensive coaches have a dominance over the game about how to stop opposition’s attack, the more that you need smart halves.
“You struggle without smart halves and Cory’s certainly one of those.”