SHOOTING STAR Ashton Golding insists he is not bitter about how his 2017 season ended.
Golding scored three tries in 22 appearances, but was dropped for Leeds Rhinos’ Betfred Super League semi-final and watched their Grand Final win over Castleford Tigers from the sidelines.
The full-back was voted Rhinos’ most impressive young player by Yorkshire Evening Post readers, but teenager Jack Walker got the nod from coach Brian McDermott for the biggest games of the year.
Despite that, Golding, 22, took a full part in celebrations at Old Trafford and has received a Super League winners’ ring – and said the next time Rhinos reach a big game he is determined to be in the 17.
“Obviously I wanted to be part of it,” he said of the Grand Final. I felt I was a big part of the year. I featured quite a lot – and had my teeth knocked out of the cause – but it was one of those where someone had to make a decision. Unfortunately it didn’t go my way, but I hold no grudges.
“I’m not bitter – I am just glad the team got the job done, we can smile and we can come into this season as champions. We won’t be on the high horse, we will be hungry and we’ll be chasing people down. We know we were far from perfect last year and personally, I am hungry. I want to play every game.”
Golding was 18th man for the Grand Final and admitted it was a tough experience.
“It’s like climbing Everest and being a metre away from the top and never getting to the summit,” he said. “It makes you strive and think what more can I do to get to that? I have just got to give people no reason to not pick me.
“It is on me, everything is on me.
My attitude is positive, but I believe if you keep looking backwards it brings depression and in the future it brings anxiety. I believe you’ve got to live in the now, so what can I do to help me get there?
“I will train hard, leave everything on the pitch and take it from there.”
Walker burst on to the scene last year – playing 12 times and giving McDermott a major selection headache.
“For me and Jack it’s probably not the best scenario to be in because it’s hard to get some continuity in games,” Golding conceded. “But for the fans and the team it’s the best – pick the form player. It’s tough waiting, not knowing if you are playing – but that’s the game.
“It is sport, you have got to be mentally tough as well as physically robust and that’s what I believe we are.”
Golding and Walker are both among the first group of Rhinos players in pre-season training.
Golding said: “It’s good to be back in. When you get a bit of time off you don’t really know what to do with your time.
“You get a bit of a holiday, you get back and then what else do you do? I was counting down the days until we got back in and it feels good to be back.
“All the boys have got a smile on their face.”