NEW NUMBER one Ashton Golding reckons Leeds Rhinos can do “great things” in 2017.
Rhinos endured a dismal campaign this year, missing out on the play-offs for the first time and flirting with relegation, but the young full-back is confident they will be back challenging in the new season.
Leeds will go into 2017 with the same senior squad that finished this year.
Just rookies Jack Ormondroyd and Cory Aston – from Kingstone Press Championship clubs Featherstone Rovers and Sheffield Eagles –have been brought in, but Golding insisted there is a hunger in the camp to prove last term was a one-off.
Leeds are three weeks into pre-season and Golding, who has taken over the No 1 jersey from former Man of Steel Zak Hardaker, said: “Obviously, last season was bitterly disappointing.
“You could sit down and look at the negatives and be there until next year, but we have got to look at the positives.
“Towards the back end, we came good, we had some systems that really worked.
“Things were promising, we came tight as a group and now we’ve got to kick on.
“I can see great things happening for us next year and I can’t wait for it.”
Pole position in Rhinos’ squad list was a massive vote of confidence in Golding from boss Brian McDermott, but the 20-year-old insisted he is not taking anything for granted.
Golding was still eligible for Rhinos’ academy side last year and also had a spell on dual-registration with Featherstone.
He scored two tries in 13 senior appearances for Leeds in 2016, when he wore squad number 23.
Speaking of his rise up the pecking order, he said: “Personally, it is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid.
“For my family, it’s a really proud moment. It’s really good, it is a boost, but as soon as you’ve got it you’ve got to start thinking about working hard and fully earning it and putting in a good effort.
“I am going to give it my all and, hopefully, that will be good enough.”
Golding faces competition for the full-back role from Liam Sutcliffe, who replaced Hardaker as Leeds’ last line of defence midway through the 2016 season.
“To me, it is not just a number,” he added.
“A lot comes with the No 1 shirt, it weighs more than any other shirt I have worn, the responsibility of that shirt.
“We’ve just got back into training and it is time to go again.
“There’s competition everywhere, there’s competition for props and hookers and full-back is just the same.
“We will both be working hard and the whole team will be working hard, pushing each other and hoping for great things.
“I won’t shy away from hard work.”
That has already started with Rhinos’ players being put through their paces in the season stages of pre-season.
“It’s tough, really tough,” Golding admitted.
“But it’s really enjoyable being around the lads again. You have time off, but you can’t wait to get back in and get to work.
“It is an enjoyable time. The pre-season will go really quickly so you have got to get the most out of it while you can.”