RUGGED FRONT-ROWER Brad Singleton has pledged to give his all in a bid avoid Wembley heartbreak for the second successive year.
Singleton made 24 appearances last season, but was left out of Leeds Rhinos’ Challenge Cup semi-final and final-winning teams.
The 22-year-old suffered another blow last week when he was dropped from the 17 for the win over St Helens which secured Rhinos’ return to Wembley.
He now has a maximum of three games to prove to coach Brian McDermott he deserves a place in the side to take on Hull KR in the final on Saturday, August 29.
Singleton has been named in the initial 19 for tomorrow’s First Utility Super-8s opener at home to Warrington Wolves and he vowed: “I am going to be really determined, that’s what’s going to happen.
“I think you’re going to get a more determined player out of me.
“I am looking forward to the next few weeks and hopefully I’ll get some good performances in. I want to be a part every week, that’s what I want to do and it’s why we all play rugby. I am keen as ever and I am ready to play.”
The semi-final was only the second game Singleton has missed this year.
He added: “On a personal level it was disappointing, but for the team we got the job done and it was a decent performance.”
Singleton was 18th man, but he said: “You gain experience every time you go out there, whether it’s a good game or a bad game.
“It is all about getting the experience and learning from things and hopefully I can get back in the side and play well.
“That’s all I can do and I think it’s a healthy problem for Mac to have, with the side we’ve got.
“It’s basically exciting times, with an opportunity to win all three trophies. It is a happy place to be.”
Competition for places in Rhinos’ pack has increased since Mitch Garbutt was signed from Brisbane Broncos in June.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan is facing up to nine months on the sidelines due to a ruptured quad tendon, but Mitch Achurch and Stevie Ward are both close to making their comeback from injury and Singleton said: “I think we’ve done great recruitment and when everyone’s fit we are a really strong outfit.
“People wrote off our pack early in the year, but it’s nice to see us up at the top of the table. What that comes down to is competition for places.
“Everyone wants to play every week and that makes Mac’s job harder, but I think that is good for us.”
The next three matches will be nervous times as Rhinos aim to get through injury-free.
“With Jonesy going down at the weekend there’s obviously a spot free, but that’s horrible to see,” Singleton stated.
“Everyone wants to win and do well for the side and we’re all gutted for Jonesy.
“I hope he comes back stronger because he has had a tough year this year, but he is an absolutely incredible bloke.
“He is absolutely determined and I’ve never seen a guy like him. There’s massive leaders in this side and Jonesy’s one of them. He is someone who absolutely rips in every day, whether it’s 10 minutes on the field or all week. He never gives in.”
Meanwhile, Catalans Dragons have confirmed the signing of Rhinos hooker Paul Aiton on a three-year contract.
The Papua New Guinea international announced yesterday that he had turned down the offer of a new three-year deal at Headingley in preference for a move to a Super League rival.
The French club duly announced Aiton’s capture this afternoon and he will move at the end of the season.
“I am looking forward to the challenge of joining Catalans and a new lifestyle in Perpignan,” said the highly-rated player, who has been a star of the Super League season.
“I will always be honoured to have played for Leeds Rhinos but the opportunity to move to France and be part of the Dragons was something that excited me at this stage in my career. Now that my future is sorted, my sole focus is on finishing this season in the best possible fashion and hopefully helping the Rhinos make more history.”