Close friends will become rivals tomorrow when Leeds Rhinos visit Bradford Bulls in the sixth round of the Coral Challenge Cup.
Full-back Ashton Golding has been drafted into Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for what would be only his second Leeds appearance this season, after the 78-6 win over Workington Town in their previous Cup tie.
That means, for the first time, Golding is set to go up against his close mate Jordan Lilley, the Rhinos scrum-half who is on a season-long loan at Bradford.
Golding and Lilley were born on the same day, played as teammates in junior and youth sides at the Stanningley community club and came through Rhinos’ system together. They are also joint-coaches of Stanningley’s open-age team in National Conference Division One.
Hooker Sam Hallas is another former Stanningley and Leeds academy player in Bulls’ squad and Golding said: “There’s a lot of players in their team I have played with.
“Jordan and Sam will want to have a good performance this weekend and Elliot [Minchella] is going really well for them. It will be a good test for them and I’ve never played against Jordan or Sam.
I am just going to approach it like a normal game. If you go looking for personal battles outside your position you’ll just get distracted.Ashton Golding
“If selected it will be the first time, but I am just going to approach it like a normal game, as they will. You have to look at the bigger picture and if you go looking for personal battles outside your position you’ll just get distracted.
“It will be at the back of my mind, but I don’t want to put a step on and show Jordan up –and hopefully he won’t want to put a high kick up and see me drop it!”
This has been a frustrating year so far for Golding after he lost his number one jersey to Jack Walker – who is currently on Leeds’ casualty list – and has yet to play in Betfred Super League.
Tui Lolohea has filled in at full-back when Walker has been unavailable so Golding has been playing on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers to maintain his match fitness.
“It is good to be back in the mix,” he stated.
“It’s one of those where I’ve got to keep pushing, but I would rather miss out and the team wins than I play and the team loses, if that’s what helps the team. But I want to be in the team and it [being named in the 19] is a bit of a boost.”
Golding played on the right-wing and scored two tries against Workington, but was in his favoured full-back role when Featherstone won at Rochdale Hornets in the Championship last Sunday.
Bulls play at the same level as Rovers and Ashton added: “I’ve been ticking some boxes at Featherstone.
“It is a good environment, they have a great bunch of supporters, it’s a good set of lads and the coaching staff are outstanding.
“Dual-registration, from my point of view, has allowed me to continue playing and keep match fit.
“I’d just be running and training, running and training without it. It is a very competitive division and we will have to play well on Saturday.”