Leeds Rhinos: Grateful Aiton is just glad to be playing again

Paul Aiton.
Paul Aiton.
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LEEDS RHINOS’ fit-again hooker Paul Aiton says he has a new love for the game – after fearing he might never play again.

LEEDS RHINOS’ fit-again hooker Paul Aiton says he has a new love for the game – after fearing he might never play again.

The off-season signing from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats made his comeback following a 13-game absence in Rhinos’ 38-28 win at Widnes Vikings two days ago.

Aiton had not featured since a home game against London Broncos in late March.

The club revealed a week later he would be unable to play for 12 weeks due to medication he was taking to treat an illness.

The nature of his health problem has not been revealed, but it is understood to be the treatment itself which prevented him from taking to the field.

Aiton said: “It is really good to be back. I have got more of an appreciation for the game now, because I didn’t think I was ever going to play again.

“To be able to come back and play with all my mates, it is really good. I loved it on Sunday.

“I genuinely thought I wouldn’t play again, but the club has bent over backwards to help me.

“They’ve been really supportive, the most supportive club I have ever been at, on and off the field.

“I am so impressed and I am really thankful to them.

“It is a bit like starting again for me, because I have been out for so long.

“It feels like I have just come in, but you pick it up pretty quickly when you are out there.”

Aiton said his goal now is to remain in the 17 for the rest of the year.

“I want to do the basics and work on my bread and butter, like my passing and my fitness in defence,” he said.

“If I can do that, opportunities will present themselves.”

Aiton was involved in two of Rhinos’ five second half tries as they hit back from a 16-10 interval deficit to record a vital win which moved them back into second spot in First Utility Super League.

“I just came into training last week and played, so it happened really fast for me,” Aiton said.

“I was a bit shocked, but I am really glad they had the trust to put me back in straight away. I am really grateful.”

Aiton’s return came on Widnes’ artificial surface, which is the fastest pitch in Super League.

“It was quick, in the first half I was knackered,” he admitted. “It was a hot day too and the heat was coming off the ground and from the sun.

“The first week you get a bit short of wind after the first five or 10 minutes, but then you catch up to it.

“I got my second wind in the second half and I felt fine.”

Teenagers Liam Sutcliffe and Josh Walters and 18-year-old hooker Robbie Ward have come into the side since Aiton was ruled out.

“Robbie has been great,” Aiton said. “It is good to see the young kids.

“Robbie is really fast and creative and Josh and Sutty have gone really well, so it’s good to be involved with those players.”

Aiton is set to feature again when Rhinos face Catalan Dragons at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday.

“They have got some big humans, so it will be interesting,” he said. “It is a home game as well, so I am looking forward to that.”

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