RISING STAR Ashton Golding says he is prepared to bide his time as he targets a Leeds Rhinos breakthrough.
Golding signed a four-year contract earlier this month after two man-of-the-match performances against the touring Australian Schoolboys.
The 18-year-old full-back was the top player when Rhinos Under-19s lost to the Aussies and received the same accolade after England won the second game in a two-Test series.
The Australians’ management highlighted Golding as a potential start of the future and the reigning Rhinos academy player-of-the-year backed up with an impressive performance in the Boxing Day Tetley’s Festive Challenge win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
“I’ve had a few games with England, then come into pre-season with Leeds and I got that opportunity,” said Golding. “It was a great opportunity for me (to play on Boxing Day) and I am over the moon with the four-year deal. Being a local lad, it means everything to me to play for the club I love.”
Golding made one Super League appearance last season, in Rhinos’ defeat at London Broncos and is hoping to add to that tally in 2015 – but insisted there is no rush.
“I am going to make myself available and train harder than I’ve ever done before to jump into contention, but if I’m not I am not going to be too disheartened,” he said. “I am just going to work hard in the academy and push forward. I will bide my time.”
Golding is understudy to ‘Dream Team’ full-back Zak Hardaker and reckons being at the same club as the England man is a blessing rather than a curse.
“Zak is going to teach me a lot this year,” he predicted. “He has already taught me a lot and he is going to teach me more. It is just about playing a waiting game really. Zak spoke to me before the Boxing day game and he gave me a few tips about them and about my game. At half-time he did the same and he is always there, working with me.”
Wildcats tested Golding under high kicks and he revealed getting through error-free was one of his pre-match targets.
He said: “I went into the game with some short-term goals and my first one was to catch everything on the full. I seemed to do that with the big kicks. The chase after was a little bit brutal, but I was fine.”
Golding was one of four England academy players in Rhinos’ Boxing Day squad, alongside five-try winger Ash Handley, hooker Robbie Ward and back-rower Elliot Minchella. All of them have had a taste of Super League rugby, but Golding admitted being part of the England squad was another step forward.
“You get a combination of everything from a different club and you learn a little bit,” he said. “It really helped, then playing the Aussies, they add something to it. It was really beneficial.”
Of all the recent praise, Golding said: “I look at it and I acknowledge it, but it doesn’t get to me. I just get back in the gym and work hard and get back on the field and train hard.”
Golding is a sixth-form student at Priesthorpe School and confirmed staff there have made special efforts to help him combine his studies with a fledgling rugby career.
“It is hard,” he said. “But all the staff at Priesthorpe really help me – sending me work online so I don’t have to be there for lessons, so I can go and train. It is really good. With them being a sports college they’ve always helped sporty people. Jamie Jones-Buchanan went there and they have really helped me – they jumped at the chance to work my schedule around training.”
Like Rhinos team-mate Jones-Buchanan, Golding is from Bramley and began playing rugby with the Stanningley community club.