THE INTENSITY of derbies against Castleford Tigers has shocked Leeds Rhinos’ ever-present forward Brad Singleton.
With Bradford Bulls no longer in the top-flight, Tigers have become Rhinos’ fiercest rivals and the tight nature of the battle at the top of First Utility Super League will add extra spice to tonight’s Headingley showdown.
Rhinos are just a point clear of second-placed St Helens and two ahead of Wigan Warriors, who meet at Langtree Park tomorrow, while a win for Tigers would lift them into the top-four.
“I like playing against Cas,” said Singleton, who is on a high after scoring a brace of tries in last Sunday’s 58-26 win at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
“It is a big derby. I didn’t realise that, coming from Barrow, but with the atmosphere and everything, it’s a good one.
“It’s important for us in the league as well. We like to be on top of the table, so hopefully we can keep plugging away and getting the two points.”
Sixth-placed Tigers have won their last two matches and had two extra days’ rest, having played at Hull KR on Friday night.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Singleton predicted. “But all we can do is take the positives from the weekend, look at the negatives and hopefully we can have a good game.”
With coach Brian McDermott holding some of his older forwards back ahead of tonight’s match, Singleton revelled in the extra game time he was given against Wakefield at Belle Vue.
“It was nice to play 60 minutes,” he reflected. “Two tries was a bonus, but the main thing was getting the two points.”
Singleton has started seven times this year, either in the front-row or playing as an extra prop at loose-forward, with the rest of his appearances coming off the bench.
“I am playing every week and that’s what I want to do,” he said.
“I obviously want to play as long as possible, but it’s whatever’s best for the team.
“Playing every game so far has been good for me. In general that’s what I planned to do, because it’s what I want and I think I am capable of it.”
On a personal level, Singleton is hoping to run into a fellow Cumbrian this evening.
Tigers’ rookie prop Will Maher signed a four-year contract extension this week, after joining them from the Cumbrian regional academy.
“I don’t know him personally, but I know he goes good,” Singleton said.
“He is from Ulverston – who play in the same league as I did with Barrow Island – and it looks like he has a bright future. He’s a big lad and he’s got all the assets. He looks the part and I hope he goes well.”
Singleton described Cumbria as rugby league “hotbed”.
He said: “It’s just disappointing that we’re getting our talent taken.
“We should have a Super League side.
“I think Cumbria could sustain one pretty easily, it just needs that initial step.”