TRY-SAVING FULL-BACK Ashton Golding insists he won’t be hamstrung by two similar injury setbacks during his first season as Leeds Rhinos’ No 1.
Golding missed three games in April due to a hamstring problem and returned in last weekend’s win over Wakefield Trinity after two more matches on the sidelines.
He has been named in Leeds’ initial 19-man squad for tonight’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final derby at home to Featherstone Rovers and is confident he doesn’t have a long-term issue.
“It is always good to be back playing in Rhinos colours,” said the 20-year-old, who is building a reputation for gritty last-ditch defence on his side’s goalline.
“I am still a bit sore – the first game back from an injury always tests the recovery of it, but hopefully I’ll be right for Featherstone.
“It’s a different injury to the one before – it’s the other hamstring, the other leg.
“I think when I was recovering before I might have taken my eye off the other leg, which is a price I paid.
“It has never happened before. It is a freak one and it’s one I’ll have to work hard to get over. It’s all about preparation with hamstrings. They can go quite easily, but recover quite quick. I’m looking to get back on the horse. I’ve had similar injuries in close proximity to each other, but there’s nothing I can do – I’ve just got to work hard.”
Cup rivals Featherstone are Rhinos’ dual-registration partner club and Golding has a good idea of what will be thrown at him tonight.
He had a brief stint at Rovers last season – scoring two tries – and doesn’t expect an easy 80 minutes.
“I’m well aware of them,” he said. “They are a good set of lads and a cracking set of fans.
“I played there three times and they were really welcoming, so it’ll be a great occasion.”
Dual-registration is a controversial system, but Golding reckons it works well for all concerned.
“It’s good for us players to be able to get some good game time if we’re not making the cut for first grade at the Rhinos,” he said. “Equally, it is down to Featherstone whether they want to pick us to play. I was lucky enough to get a spot and play. I know they are going really well this year and they will come and give it a good shot. They will come with expectations to win. It’s a quarter-final of the Challenge Cup and we won’t be taking it lightly. It will be full down, pedal to the mettle and we will be going for it.”
Tonight will be Golding’s opposite number Ian Hardman’s 250th game for Rovers. He also works for Rhinos’ Foundation and Golding said: “It is his testimonial year this year. He is a good guy and a good servant to rugby league.
“I’d urge people to get behind it. He has done some good things for Featherstone and he has been loyal so he deserves a good year.”
Leeds Rhinos: from Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Galloway, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Ablett, Ward, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Garbutt, Ferres, Mullally, Handley, Baldwinson.
Featherstone Rovers: from Hardman, Duckworth, Taulapapa, Briggs, Thackeray, Griffin, Carlile, Knowles, Davies, Moore, Mariano, Tagg, Cooper, Wildie, Johnson, Lockwood, Walton, Hardcastle, Aston.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.