NEW CASTLEFORD Tigers half-back Cory Aston says there are “no hard feelings” over his frustrating year at Leeds Rhinos.
Aston, 22, joined Rhinos from Sheffield Eagles ahead of the 2017 season, but was released midway through a two-year deal without playing a first team game.
He had spells on loan at Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls before Tigers stepped in to sign the stand-off/scrum-half on a two-year contract last month. He insisted he is enjoying his new surroundings and is ready to make the breakthrough into Betfred Super League.
“I think it has made me a better person and a better player,” he said of his spell with Rhinos.
“It has been character-building and I am really looking forward to this year.
“There are no hard feelings. I really enjoyed my time last year and I am really looking forward to cracking on this year. That’s my main focus.”
At Tigers, Aston will be working under coach Daryl Powell – a former Test stand-off – and his assistants Ryan Sheridan and Danny Orr, both ex-Great Britain half-backs.
He said: “This year is a new challenge and I am looking forward to working under Daryl and also Shez and Danny.
“They played in my position, so it is good to work with them.
“That is massive for me, they were all great players and to have them as coaches is a big attraction.
“It’s just the little things and the attention to detail you get from Shez, it is massive towards your development.”
Aston’s target is to play at least five first team games in 2018.
He faces tough competition with Man of Steel Luke Gale and fellow recruit Jamie Ellis ahead of him in the pecking order, but stressed he is up for the challenge.
“I want to play five games this year and if I do that’s five more than last season,” he said.
“I just want to get that first game under my belt and then I’ll go from there.
“The strength in depth here is massive so it is going to be a challenge, but while you are training you are picking things up from good players.
“I had Danny McGuire in front of me last year and Luke Gale this year. They are both outstanding half-backs and to learn off them is brilliant.”
Gale also moved around various clubs before becoming England’s first-choice scrum-half after signing for Castleford.
Aston observed: “Daryl is known for bringing players on and if you look at Luke Gale’s career path, he has been at a few clubs and then come here and really blossomed.
“I think he is an inspiration for me; he had it tough, he went around a bit and he came here and he has turned into a world class player and an England international. That is something I look at.”
Meanwhile, Ellis could be a doubt for Tigers’ pre-season game at home to Rhinos on January 21 after suffering an ankle injury in training.
Tigers’ first team squad fly to Lanzarote tomorrow to begin a week-long warm-weather training camp.