Ashton Golding’s targeting a unique promotion double with Featherstone Rovers and Stanningley
IT MAY be a unique feat in rugby league history: two promotion deciders with separate clubs – in different continents – on the same day.
Ashton Golding is joint-coach of Leeds amateur club Stanningley who face Featherstone Lions in the National Conference Division One play-offs final on Saturday.
But he won’t be at Featherstone Rovers’ LD Nutrition Stadium Post Office Road.
Instead, Golding will be 3,400 miles away in Canada, preparing for Featherstone Rovers’ Betfred Championship Grand Final at Toronto Wolfpack later that evening, UK time.
“It’s crazy,” said the Leeds Rhinos full-back who has been playing for Rovers on dual-registration.
“It is a big day for me!
“It has been like that for the last few weeks; I have been doing Tuesday and Thursday training with Stanningley, but we [Rovers] have been playing on Saturdays so I can’t make the games.
“I’ve done my bit by then though.”
Stanningley, whose other head-coach is Bradford Bulls’ former Rhinos scrum-half Jordan Lilley, are bidding for a third successive promotion.
“It would be massive,” Golding said of the prospect of reaching the amateur game’s top division.
“Sometimes I sit down and reflect on the three-four years I have been involved and it is crazy to think we are in this position.
“But when we sat down and spoke, we put together a five-year plan and this was on it – getting to the Premier Division.
“It might be a bit sooner on the plan than we anticipated, but it was always on the plan and it’s what we’ve been working towards.
“Am I surprised we are in this position? No.
“Am I nervous? Massively, but it is excitement more than anything.
“The build up to a Grand Final, whether you are coaching or playing, is special and I have got both in the same week.”
Rovers have been the surprise package in the Championship play-offs.
Expected to struggle this year after a difficult pre-season, they finished fifth in the table and have already won away to the three teams immediately above them, in successive weeks, during the play-offs.
League leaders Toronto have lost only once this year, but Golding insisted: “It was a massive ask for us to go to Leigh, York and Toulouse and win.
“We are full of confidence, we know what we can do.
“This is a team that will graft for each other, keep working and never say die.
“The run we are on puts us in good stead for the next game, but we are not naive, we know who we’re playing and we know they are a good team.”
Rovers arrived back in West Yorkshire from France on Monday and were flying to Canada today.
“We were in on Tuesday for recovery and training on Wednesday,” Golding said.
“It is a short turnaround and the players are all having to make sacrifices, taking time off work and not seeing their families.
“They are massive sacrifices, but it is worth it when you get the reward at the end and I think everyone’s buying into that.”