Leeds Rhinos: Hooker Aiton desperate to finish season on a high

Paul Aiton
Paul Aiton
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LEEDS RHINOS hooker Paul Aiton is desperate to end a “frustrating” debut season on a high.

The Papua New Guinea star joined Rhinos from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last autumn, but missed three months early in the campaign due to illness.

He returned to feature in Rhinos’ Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final and final wins and has his sights set on more silverware in next month’s Super League title decider.

Aiton has played 12 successive games since returning to the team and completed the full 80 minutes in the last two, with Rob Burrow sidelined due to a groin problem.

“I have really enjoyed it,” he said of his increased game time.

“I think I am finding my feet. I still think I can bring more to the team, but finally I feel like I am getting there. It was a little bit frustrating, to be honest, early on in the season.

“I was used to playing a certain way and at a certain level and you feel you can just go out and play that way, but finally I feel like I am getting back to how I know I can play.

“It has been a difficult year with the long lay-off and other things, but I came back and played in the Challenge Cup final and was part of that, so it has been a very mixed year.

“I have had very mixed feelings, a lot of ups and downs.”

Aiton reckons the Cup final triumph was a huge boost to his confidence.

“It was good being able to share that with the boys,” he said. “It brings you closer together and you are going to remember that for the rest of your life.”

Rhinos will finish sixth in First Utility Super League, whatever happens in tomorrow’s final game of the regular season at Hull.

“This is when you need to be playing well,” Aiton said of the lead-in to the play-offs.

“You have to be playing the best footy you can and I am hoping we can do that.

“The comp is pretty tight, which is good and we are going to do our very best to compete for a place in the Grand Final.”

Of tomorrow’s game, Aiton added: “We are going to have to be at our best, because Hull aren’t just going to let us go out and play.

“They are playing Leeds, so it’s a game they will want to win as well. I am sure they won’t want to roll over, they will want to play well and we will have to be at our best to build some momentum for the play-offs.”

Tom Briscoe.

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