Leeds Rhinos prop Brad Singleton has revealed his international ambition.
The 21-year-old Cumbrian has played for England at schools, academy and Knights level and has set his sights on completing the set by gaining a full Test cap.
The former Barrow Island man is hoping to make his first appearance of pre-season when Rhinos travel to Hunslet Hawks for the annual Lazenby Cup fixture on January 26.
Singleton missed the Boxing Day draw with Wakefield due to a suspension picked up after he was sin-binned for fighting during England Knights’ 52-16 demolition of Samoa last October.
Despite the yellow card Singleton was one of the Knights’ top forwards and sees the experience as a step towards his ultimate goal.
“It was good camp and we had a great team,” Singleton said. “It was a fun bunch and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was good for all us young lads, we beat them by some score and it was definitely a good experience.
“I think every English player wants to play for the international team and playing for England Knights is one of the steps forward. That’s what I want to do and it was definitely a step in the right direction.”
Singleton’s first task is to nail down a regular spot in Rhinos’ 17.
He made just one substitute appearance in both 2011 and 2012, but started nine games last year with another another seven off the bench. That wasn’t enough to secure a place in Rhinos’ top-20 squad, but he has pledged to rise up the pecking order when the new campaign begins next month.
“I have been here long enough now to say I am going to give this one a real go,” said the former England academy skipper, who also played once on loan for Wakefield last term.
“Pre-season has been spot on. I was unfortunate to miss the Boxing Day game because there’s nothing like match-fitness, but I just want to play now. I hope to be playing in the next two friendlies, to get ready for the season. Each year you gain experience, especially when you are working with the best.
“You can only take positives out of how you play and, hopefully, you can learn from your mistakes and go forward.
“Playing 16 games has given me a lot of confidence. Confidence grows with every game when the coach is picking you. I was getting picked even when other players came back fit, so that was good for me.
“It shows to me and hopefully to the team that I can play more than the odd game and hopefully I’ll do myself justice when I get chance.”
Singleton is the youngest of the six specialist props in Rhinos’ senior squad.
Jamie Peacock (36), Kylie Leuluai (35), Ian Kirke (33) and Ryan Bailey (30) are all at or nearing the veteran stage, while off-season signing Andy (23) Yates has yet to make a Super League appearance.
“People say we have got an ageing pack, but it is still one of the best in Super League,” Singleton said. “Some of them might only have two or three, maybe four – you never know with these lads – years left and it is definitely an opportunity for all the young forwards coming through at Leeds.
“There is a spot there for us, if we want to take it.”
Meanwhile, new signings Lee Gaskell, Garreth Carvell and Luke George are all set to make their first appearance for Bradford Bulls in Sunday’s home trial game against Hull.
London Broncos have signed Tonga World Cup full-back Nesiasi Mataitonga, from Cronulla Sharks under-20s.
He could make his first appearance against Leeds Rhinos in Ryan Bailey’s testimonial game at Headingley Carnegie on Friday, January 31.