CENTRE Aston Wilson could be the next player to break through into Leeds Rhinos’ first team, coach Brian McDermott has predicted, writes Peter Smith.
The 20-year-old has impressed Rhinos’ backroom staff with his performances in the reserves this term and McDermott reckons he will get a senior call up at some stage this season.
Wilson is expected to play again for the under-20s away to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats tomorrow (2.30pm) and McDermott described him as “the next cab off the rank” in terms of promotion to the first team.
Wilson’s father Warren joined Leeds from Hunslet at the start of the 1989-90 season and made 11 appearances in blue and amber.
“It’s an interesting story with Aston,” said McDermott. “He was told there was nothing for him at Leeds – thanks for everything you’ve done, but you haven’t made the cut’.
“He said ‘I’m not happy with that, I haven’t given it my best shot – can I stay”?
“The only way for him to do that was on a very part-time basis, for literally no money, but probably since the start of pre-season last year he has been the outstanding performer in terms of commitment and professionalism.
“He has played some cracking games in the centres.
“Everyone thinks if you haven’t been picked up at 15, 16 or 17, you aren’t going to make it.
“But there’s more than enough kids at age 19, 20 or 21 who can break through if they have the right attitude – and Aston is proof of that.”
Rhinos are down to the bare bones in the three-quarters, with wingers Ben Jones-Bishop (dislocated shoulder) and Zak Hardaker (broken finger) both on the long-term casualty list.
McDermott is due to name his initial 19 for Sunday’s derby at Wakefield this afternoon, but utility-back Lee Smith (hamstring) and centre Brett Delaney (foot) could again miss out.
The coach is likely to plug the gaps from within his existing squad, but said Wilson will be considered if a similar situation occurs later in the year.
“It wouldn’t surprise me, especially with Bish being down for four months.” said McDermott. “Aston is the next cab off the rank.
“He is big and strong and he knows how to defend. He is a very strong ball-carrier, but I don’t think that’s his main quality.
“His main quality is attitude. He is a nice lad and has a cracking attitude – he is a pleasure to work with.”
Rob Burrow (calf) is a minor doubt for Sunday, but McDermott is hopeful that Kylie Leuluai will return from a pectoral muscle injury.
Leuluai’s fellow prop Ryan Bailey has not played this season due to a groin problem, but had surgery a fortnight ago and McDermott said: “He is nearly there, he has a good chance of being in the 19.”