Leeds Rhinos: First-team recall is the major goal for Ashton Golding
IT HAS been a tough start to the year for Leeds Rhinos full-back Ashton Golding, but he will keep fighting to regain a place in the team.
Golding lost his number one jersey to Jack Walker in pre-season and has yet to make a competitive appearance for Rhinos in 2019. When a hamstring injury kept Walker out of last week’s derby against Wakefield Trinity, Tui Lolohea was switched to full-back and forward Cameron Smith filled in at stand-off.
Golding did get a run-out on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers and hopes that was a stepping stone back into Rhinos contention.
The 22-year-old has played 62 times for Rhinos since his debut in 2014 and insisted: “I think I have shown I am quite versatile with where I’ve played and how I’ve played. It has been difficult for me the last few weeks with regards to not playing and people hammering me on social media. That’s part of the game and you get that when you’re not playing.
“It chips away a little bit but, after 2016, I have got a bit of a thick skin and I can take that now. I am just looking forward to keeping working with the boys and hopefully I will get my shot soon.”
The big challenge for Golding will be making the most of his opportunity when it comes. He recalled: “I felt I played reasonably well there [at full-back] last year, then injuries happened and here I am thrown in at hooker. With Mac [coach Brian McDermott] leaving things changed, there’s been a lot of things happening for the team and me personally with the birth of my son. On and off the field it has been exciting for me, but that’s the way life is and you’ve got to take it.”
Golding had a strong game, as a substitute winger, when Rhinos beat Wakefield on Boxing Day and was at full-back in a pre-season match away to Doncaster the following month, but then suffered a calf injury and has not pulled on a Leeds jersey since.
“It happened in January, but I’ve been fit for a while now,” he confirmed. “I’ve been training and building that fitness up again and that strength around the calf muscle. I’ve been working hard and waiting for my opportunity.
“That was at Fev and I’m happy they have given me the opportunity to play again, but that has not deterred me from my goal or where I want to be playing. Equally, it’s an honour and privilege to be able to pull on a Featherstone jersey with all the history and heritage that club has. It’s an honour for me the coaches wanted me in that side.”
Golding played as a centre in Rovers’ 44-22 defeat at Widnes Vikings last Sunday and revealed: “That was my first time playing in the centre.
“It was different, but I really enjoyed just getting back out there and running about. All the lads at Featherstone have been really good with me. They are just a good bunch of lads, honest and hardworking.
“They go to work from 9-5, turn up at training and put it all in.
“Unfortunately we were beaten by a full-time squad who have gone through a little bit.
“The crowd rallied behind them and that was an extra man on the field for them.
“They were very loud and proud and so they should be.”