Leeds Rhinos: Hooker Aiton comfortable and confident in familiar role

Paul Aiton
Paul Aiton
0
Have your say

HOOKER PAUL Aiton reckons he is on course for a big second season with Leeds Rhinos.

The Papua New Guinea international played only 20 times for Leeds – seven of those as a substitute – last year and missed three months of the campaign due to illness.

Now fit and with a full pre-season under his belt, he has been in the starting line-up for both Leeds’ First Utility Super League games so far and is confident he is beginning to settle into Rhinos’ way of doing things.

“I had a disrupted year last year,” Aiton conceded. “But I had a good pre-season and I feel really comfortable within the team.

“I still feel I have got a lot more to do, so for me I am looking for a big year and I’m pretty excited about this season actually.”

The 29-year-old, who joined Rhinos from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats ahead of the 2014 campaign, admitted he is keen to show what he can do after last year’s false start.

“I was out for a while and the way I play is a little bit different to how we were last year,” he said.

“We played a certain way when I was at Wakefield and I feel as though I am playing a little bit similar to that now, which is probably to my strengths and where I am comfortable – and if you are comfortable, you play well.”

He added: “I am extremely happy with the game time I am getting.

“It means the boys can get a feel for myself and I get a feel for them.

“It builds confidence between us and hopefully we can have a good year.”

Rhinos, who don’t have a game this weekend, have won both their opening fixtures in First Utility Super League, including a 38-6 demolition of Widnes Vikings last Friday.

Rhinos scored 24 unanswered points in the final 13 minutes.

And Aiton said: “It was a tough game. Widnes played really well.

“We were in a grind for quite a while and it was good that we competed right to the end.

“It’s good that we’ve got two wins, four points is great, but it’s only the start of the season.

“We have got to keep our feet on the ground and we can’t get carried away. We will review Friday’s game and look at the things we need to improve on.

“There are some little things, but we had a good pre-season and we worked on a lot, so in the season you can just tweak it here and there.

“The boys aren’t afraid to do the hard yards, which is good. We are playing right until the last minute and that’s good as well.”

Rhinos under-19s, meanwhile, are in action on Saturday when they travel to Castleford Tigers (2pm).

Still improving: Zak Hardakers attacking game has improved steadily since switching from Leeds Rhinos to Castleford Tigers.

Carl Ablett: Why Zak deserves my vote for his second Man of Steel award