TREBLE-WINNER Brad Singleton has paid tribute to rugby league’s part-time players after dipping his toes into the Betfred Championship with Featherstone Rovers.
Singleton was one of three Leeds Rhinos players who featured on dual-registration for Featherstone in their 42-14 home win over Batley Bulldogs last weekend.
After being a substitute in Rhinos’ Betfred Super League round one defeat at Warrington Wolves, Singleton was left out of the side which lost away to Wigan Warriors last Friday and instead started for Rovers alongside clubmates Luke Briscoe and Cameron Smith.
He was replaced in Leeds’ line-up by Nathaniel Peteru who had not been chosen for the game at Warrington.
Having played in two Grand Final-winning teams, scored a try in a Wembley Challenge Cup triumph and helped Rhinos to the league leaders’ shield during his nine seasons in their senior side, Singleton is arguably the most high-profile Leeds player to have turned out for Rovers during the clubs’ current partnership.
The 26-year-old, who was among the players who stepped up to captain Rhinos last term during Kallum Watkins’ injury lay-off, was grateful for the extended game time and insisted he has full respect for the Championship and the men who combine their playing career with a full-time job away from the sport.
I got an hour straight which is the most I have done all year. I like big minutes and unfortunately for me I missed the Boxing Day game, played 20 minutes of the Cas (pre-season) game and did a stint off the bench against Warrington. For me to get 60 minutes was very beneficial.Leeds Rhinos’ Brad Singleton
“I am pretty easy and open to it,” he said of being offered to Rovers. “I just like playing rugby.
“You have probably got to drop your ego a bit, but full credit to all the Fev and Batley lads and all that league.
“Some of them are easily Super League standard and they are working all day and playing at weekends. For me, that league is probably tougher mentally than Super League and some of the boys there are big so it is still a physical battle.
“It was good, I got an hour straight which is the most I have done all year. I like big minutes and unfortunately for me I missed the Boxing Day game, played 20 minutes of the Cas [pre-season] game and did a stint off the bench against Warrington. For me to get 60 minutes was very beneficial.”
Rhinos visit Salford Red Devils on Sunday, when Rovers are away to Leigh Centurions.
Of his prospects of being recalled to Leeds’ side, Singleton – whose brother Perry plays in League One for Workington Town – said: “We will have to see how it pans out.
“Obviously it is up to the coaching staff.
“I think everyone’s on a clean slate starting the year. We haven’t quite clicked yet, Leeds. We are hoping to do so and it is just finding which combinations work.”
Singleton – who had lower division spells at Hunslet and Dewsbury Rams early in his career – stressed he understands coach Dave Furner’s thinking as he gets to grip with his new club.
“We are both new to each other, as the whole squad is new to Dave,” he added. “I think for me to play my best rugby I need to be hitting those 60 minutes and this was an opportunity to get that.
“All the coaching staff watch the games and Dave was there on Sunday.
“I don’t think it’s that much of an issue, going to Featherstone, because I think it is more beneficial for the squad to have [a dual-registration agreement].
“There’s no reserve grade and you’ve got to play.
“They can only pick 17 players and whoever they go with someone needs to play elsewhere. To get the benefits of playing at such a high standard with Fev, it is quite a positive.”
Singleton was among the try scorers as Rovers recorded their first win under coach Ryan Carr. He observed: “There is a real team spirit there.
“I really rate Ryan Carr, he is only a young coach and he seems to get his point across well. I think they will go well this year.”