Hunslet RLFC v Leeds Rhinos: Aston has first-team selection in his sights

Cory Aston.
Cory Aston.
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NEW SIGNING Cory Aston is prepared to play a waiting game, but says he wants to give a better account of himself tomorrow in his second appearance for Leeds Rhinos.

The former Sheffield Eagles half-back admits he wasn’t at his best in the Boxing Day defeat to Wakefield Trinity and is determined to show what he can do when Rhinos visit Hunslet for the Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Cup derby.

“My goal is to push for a place in the first team,” Aston said of his ambition for 2017.

“I’ll be happy if I play five to 10 games this year and then kick on from that.

“It’s five to 10 more Super League games than I played last year.

“It is all about setting little goals like that and progressing on from them.

“So if I play five to 10 this year, the year after I’ll try and get 10-15, then I am building on for a good couple of years ahead, hopefully.”

Rhinos were crushed 30-6 by Wakefield at Christmas in their first trial match and Aston felt he did not show himself in the best light.

That means he needs to catch the eye of Leeds’ coaches in the club’s remaining warm-ups, beginning tomorrow, if he is to force his way into first-team contention when the real business starts next month.

Reflecting on his first run-out, he said: “Personally I was a bit disappointed with myself.

“It was a big occasion and obviously a tough game to play in, with how the result went.

“It wasn’t easy for myself to implement my game and I came off the pitch a bit disappointed.

“I was disappointed I didn’t do more, but hopefully in a couple more games I will put that right and put that one to bed.”

Tomorrow’s match is an opportunity for Aston to step up and show the qualities Leeds spotted before offering him a two-year deal.

“That’s my aim,” he said. “I am looking forward to it. It will be a good game to put the Boxing Day one behind me and kick on from there.”

Aston knows rugby league is a tough game for a young half-back, but he is keen to impose himself as a play-maker.

He added: “Coming into a team with such big players – the likes of England internationals – as a half-back it is hard to come in and have to direct players like that around.

“But that’s the job you’ve got to do and I’ve got more confident with it as time’s gone on.

“Week by week I feel like I am improving, so it’s good.”

Aston reckons he is in the right place to develop, working alongside players such as Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, who have won everything in the domestic game.

“It is great working with players like that, who have achieved what they have in the sport,” he said.

“They have achieved pretty much everything you can achieve, there’s not much more they could achieve, so to work alongside them, with the experience they’ve got, you can pick up so much.

“The smallest things I can pick up off them is great for me.”

Aston has been training with Leeds since pre-season began two months ago.

He reflected: “I’m really enjoying it. How you get looked after here and the facilities, it’s a different level to what I’m used to.

“The level of professionalism is something I am getting used to now and starting to really enjoy.”

Working in a rugby league city is an eye-opener for Aston, who was born and raised in Sheffield, where the 13-a-side code struggles to make an impression.

“In Sheffield it’s all football, football, football,” he said.

“To come to Leeds, where everyone knows Leeds Rhinos, it’s great.

“Coming off the field on Boxing Day, I’ve never had so many pictures taken.

“It is a different kettle of fish being at Leeds, compared to Sheffield.

“You see so many people walking around in Leeds Rhinos shirts.

“In Sheffield you see a Sheffield Eagles shirt and it’s ‘wow, there’s an Eagles shirt’, but here it’s totally different.”