YOUNG FULL-BACK Ashton Golding is dreaming of getting through to the Challenge Cup final – or he would be if he could sleep.
Golding, 20, is set to be Rhinos’ last line of defence in Saturday’s semi-final against Hull at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.
It will be only his 36th game for Leeds and his third Challenge Cup appearance and he admitted big matches like Saturday’s keep him awake at night.
“It’ll be the biggest game I’ve played in, without doubt,” Golding said.
“I’ve been looking forward to it ever since we got there.
“Regardless of who we are playing, it’s a semi-final of the Challenge Cup.
“Games like that keep me up at night – though they probably shouldn’t as I need my recovery!
“But it’s massive – you close your eyes and you can see it.
“I’ve seen Kev (Sinfield) lifting the trophy and Kev and Jonesy (Jamie Jones-Buchanan) lifting the trophy and I want to be part of that.”
Golding was at Wembley to see Rhinos’ Cup wins in 2014 and 2015 and was a ball boy when they lost there to Wigan in 2011.
“I was in the Champion Schools Year Nine,” he recalled.
“We (Priesthorpe School) played at Twickenham Stoop and I got selected to be ball boy at Wembley.
“It was disappointing Leeds didn’t win, but it was a great experience being so close to the pitch.
“To actually play there would be amazing – what an atmosphere that would be.
“It keeps me awake just thinking about it.”
Golding made his debut in 2014, when Rhinos sent a below-strength team to London Broncos a week before their Wembley win over Castleford Tigers.
He has had injury problems this year, but the defeat at Wigan last Friday was his 17th appearance of the campaign, all in the starting line-up.
He has yet to score a try this term, but has developed a reputation for last-gasp defence on Leeds’ goalline.
“For me, it’s the big one,” he said of Saturday’s BBC-televised tie.
“It’s what I have been working towards – playing in the big games.
“The start of the season is all well and good, but we have got to be there or thereabouts now.
“All the hard work has been put in and it has got to all come together.”
Rhinos beat Hull 10-7 in Super League 12 days ago and are on an eight-game winning run against the black and whites.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Golding warned.
“It’s all on the day, the Cup is totally different – any team can beat any team.
“It’s great, that’s the beauty of it.
“Hull are a really big threat all over the park.
“With Albert Kelly coming back into the squad, he will bring another threat.
“They will be better. It’s a Challenge Cup semi-final and that’s just the way it is.”
Golding was one of just nine players from the Hull game to back up against Wigan and, after his hamstring issues, he was glad of the game time.
“I feel good,” he said.
“I came through Friday all clear, I’ll have a good week in training and we’ll go from there.”