GRAND FINAL hero Brad Singleton admits being handed Leeds Rhinos’ No10 shirt was a shock.
Singleton finished last season in outstanding form and was Rhinos’ top forward in the title-clinching win over Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford.
He has moved up the pecking order from No16, with Adam Cuthbertson switching from 10 to eight and Keith Galloway – currently recovering from a second Achilles rear in as many seasons – dropping to No20.
Singleton – who is following in the footsteps of club legends Barrie McDermott and Jamie Peacock – insisted the promotion will not affect how he plays, but knows there will be more pressure to perform.
“The shirt number was a bit of a surprise,” said the 25-year-old, who made his senior debut in 2011.
“I don’t go into seasons ever letting a number dictate how I play or sit there thinking about what number I would like to be, but on the flip side I know the number 10 has some significance and I respect all those that wore it before me, so maybe there is a bit of added weight to it.
I know the number 10 has some significance and I respect all those that wore it before me, so maybe there is a bit of added weight to it.Leeds Rhinos’ Brad Singleton
“That is just part and parcel of playing at such a successful club and I am looking forward to starting the next campaign with it.”
Singleton is currently on World Cup duty in Australia, but revealed he almost didn’t travel due to injury.
“I was very close to pulling out because of my back,” he said.
“The day before flying out I was still in two minds.
“A couple of phone calls that day with the likes of Kyle Amor, Mull [Rhinos team-mate Anthony Mullally] and the coach Tubbs [Mark Aston] helped sway me.
They’ve been great managing my back and I would say I’m near on 100 per cent now and enjoying all the training and the games.”
Ireland close their group campaign tomorrow against Wales in Perth in a curtain-raiser to England’s clash with France.
Singleton added: “The Ireland camp has been great. We’ve come together and had a real dig. Unfortunately for us only one goes through and that looks like being Papua New Guinea.
“Our team is an honest, hard-working side and I’ve loved it, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my minutes and role I’ve been playing.
“I love playing for the boys and this country and I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my days. “
Singleton reckons the scene is set for a “cracker” tomorrow.
“There’s no way Wales won’t want to leave on a high,” he said of Ireland’s opponents, who have lost their opening two games.
“We’ll have to be at our best to get the win and to sign off in the manner we want and deserve.”
Ireland beat Italy 36-12 in their opening match before a 14-6 defeat in Papua New Guinea last weekend.
“PNG was crazy,” Singleton said. “They are rugby mad and it was great to see. The game and atmosphere was intense and unforgettable.
“Every tackle you needed to get your body in front, otherwise they’re not getting stopped.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the result, but for me it was a performance that really showed how close this group is.”