LEEDS RHINOS’ new number one has been given a vote of confidence by the man he replaced.
Twenty-year-old Ashton Golding will wear Rhinos’ No 1 jersey next year, taking over from former Man of Steel Zak Hardaker
Hardaker has joined Castleford Tigers on a season-long loan, with a view to a permanent move in a year’s time, but said he is delighted for his young successor.
“I went to Tenerife last week for five days,” Hardaker said.
“I went with [Rhinos forward] Brett Ferres, we were sat in a bar and, I had to look a few times, but Ashton Golding was in there as well!
“We spent five or six days with each other, with his two friends.
“I spoke about it and said he should probably get No 1.
“He said he wasn’t sure until he got home, but I am over the moon for him.
“He is an extremely hard-working kid, he is a Leeds lad, he loves Leeds and supports Leeds.
“For him it is a dream come true. I am really proud of him.”
Hardaker reckons the jersey is in safe hands.
“I have worked with him in training a few times,” said Tigers’ new recruit.
“A big thing was his strength, but if you have seen him lately, he has put a lot of weight on.
“He has bulked up massively. That was a big thing for him and with a good pre-season under his belt I’m sure he’ll do fantastically well.
“I wish him all the best.”
Hardaker reckons Rhinos - who finished ninth in Super League this year - will have a better season in 2017.
“They had a lot of injuries last season, but they have got a good enough squad to go all the way,” he said.
“I am sure there is going to be a reaction, but as much as I wish them good luck it is all about Castleford for me now.
“We play them three times next season and I want to beat them three times.”