IT HAS been a miserable season on the field, but two Leeds Rhinos players have achieved something special off it.
Full-back Ashton Golding and half-back Jordan Lilley, who is on long-term loan at Bradford Bulls, have coached their community club, Stanningley, to the National Conference Division Two title.
The pair, who both turned 22 yesterday, took charge of the Leeds club’s first team at the start of this season and have inspired them to 17 wins from their 21 games.
Golding reckons his role has given him a new outlook on the game which will improve him as a player, but insisted he has no plans to go into professional coaching when he hangs up his boots.
“It is the first time the Stanningley team has won a league since 1994,” Golding said.
“It has been that long since we’ve had any silverware at the club in a first team senior perspective, but it goes a lot deeper than the first team.
“Our academy went back-to-back Alliance league champions as well as the first team going back-to-back promotions and then becoming the champions.
“It has been a building process for the last two or three years and a lot of credit to the people at Stanningley.”
Golding and Lilley both played as youngsters for Stanningley before joining Leeds.
Golding, who has scored six tries in 21 games for Rhinos this year, added: “Me and Jordan often get people saying: ‘How do you find the time and how do you commit to it?’, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not hard for us to be able to go and give something back.
“The players who turn up week in and week out, train and then play are giving up a lot of their time.
“They make a lot of sacrifices and taking a step back and going to the amateur level of coaching really makes you appreciate that.
“Me and Jordan are just the cherry on top, the cake has so many layers – with the juniors section, players coming through and so many people at the heart of things keeping the club ticking over.”
Of whether he would consider a career in professional coaching, Golding said: “I always say ‘no’.
“I want rugby to be part of my life forever, but not that side of it, the pressure side.
“But who knows? Maybe in 10 years I will have a change of heart, but I really enjoy it.
“I really enjoy getting around the lads and they are a great bunch.”
Golding made his Rhinos debut four years ago, but admitted his perspective on the sport has changed since he took up coaching.
“You start to read a game differently,” he said.
“When you are six points up at half-time and you get an early penalty, yes we’ll probably go for two.
“Or with 10 minutes to go and you are losing by four, who to put on?
“It is all tactical and I didn’t realise that side of it until I started coaching and I got thrown into the deep end.”