AT 23, winger Ash Handley has already become a member of an illustrious club after reaching 100 appearances for Leeds Rhinos
Handley crossed twice during his milestone match, last week’s 44-0 win at Huddersfield Giants.
He made his debut for Rhinos in 2014, in a loss at London Broncos the week before Leeds’ Challenge Cup final date with Castleford Tigers.
Handley scored 13 tries in 20 appearances the following season and, after a spell at centre last year, was handed the number five jersey for the 2019 campaign.
“It’s really good for me,” he said of reaching 100 games for Rhinos.
“The boys made a big deal of it during the week and, before the game, they made me feel special and it was a great game for my 100th.
“We all dug deep and got a good win.”
Trent Merrin captained the team as usual at Huddersfield, but Handley led them out before the game.
He said: “As we were walking out Mez pulled me to the front and said ‘you lead us out’. It was a real honour to lead the boys out.”
The two tries capped off a memorable evening for Handley, who, like his predecessor Ryan Hall, is a product of the Oulton Raiders community club.
They took his club tally to 52, 17 of those this year.
That beats his previous best from four years ago.
“I was just on the end of them,” Handley said of his brace, both of which came in the second half.
“I owe Dicky [Richie Myler] a beer, he set me up for two.
“He played really well and controlled the game.
“We stuck to the game plan and that is probably how we ended up winning so well.
“I think we went off course a bit in the last 10 minutes when the game was won.
“We just had to get back to that.
“At the back end they might have got over, but we showed real resilience to keep them to zero.”
As well as keeping a clean sheet, Rhinos ran in eight tries and Handley added; “It all sort of clicked.
“Everyone was in the right position at the right time, our gameplan worked and we got over for a few points.”
The big win lifted Rhinos above Wakefield Trinity and Huddersfield Giants into eighth place on the Betfred Super League ladder.
Safety is not yet assured, but Rhinos should be good enough to secure their top-flight status over the remaining five games – four of which are at home – if they maintain that level of performance.
Rhinos play host to play-off hopefuls Catalans Dragons on Friday evening and Handley said: “Hopefully we can kick on.
“We are at home this week and we’ve not had many good performances at home.
“Hopefully it will be a big crowd and they can help us get back-to-back wins.
“We are just focusing on ourselves.
“Everyone’s piling the pressure on us, but we are just sticking together and working hard together.”