Switching sides: Aiton and McShane set for Boxing Day battle

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme
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ROLES WILL be reversed when Paul Aiton and Paul McShane square off at Headingley Carnegie in a week’s time.

Boxing Day’s Heatshot Festive Challenge between Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will see the two hookers on opposite sides for the second successive year.

But while McShane starred for Rhinos in 2012 and Aiton was in Wildcats colours, the duo have swapped sides this time around.

Aiton is set to make his Leeds debut opposite the man he replaced in blue and amber and the Papua New Guinea World Cup ace admitted: “It will be a bit strange”. But he added: “Once you get on the field you are there to play.

“I am playing for a new team and I’ve got new team-mates now.

“Hopefully I will have a good week leading up to it. I will do my job, fulfil my role and that’s all I can do.

“That is how I have always played and it’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Next Thursday’s pre-season opener comes less than seven weeks after Aiton played for Papua New Guinea at Headingley Carnegie in their final World Cup game, against New Zealand.

“I haven’t had much of a break, but I am feeling good,” said the No 9, who began pre-season training with Rhinos on Monday.

“When I had my break I really had a break.

“Normally I am pretty active, but when I had this break I really relaxed my mind and my body, which was exactly what I needed.

“It’s good that I have come back really fresh. It is a short lead-up to this game, but I am really looking forward to it.”

Aiton, pictured right, added: “I have played at Headingley before and it is always a good atmosphere. It will be a bit different now the roles are reversed, but I got a taste of what it’s like for a home player in the World Cup.

“When I played for PNG the crowd were cheering for us and it was really good, having them behind us.”

Of his first few days as a Leeds player, Aiton said: “It has been good.

“I had a few weeks off after the World Cup and it has been good to get back to it.

“It is early days, but they are a good bunch of boys and they’ve made me very welcome.”

Aiton is due to spend Christmas Day with his former Wakefield team-mate Dean Collis.

Meanwhile, McShane is relishing his quick return to Headingley.

He said: “I could not pick a better place to play my first game for Wakefield.

“The Wildcats lads have been great with me, they have really helped me settle in and they are a good bunch.

“There will be a few young lads getting a chance on Boxing Day too and they want to show what they can do.”

Ryan Hall.

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