THE SEARCH begins today for Leeds Rhinos’ Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star 2017.
The coveted Shooting Star award goes to the young Rhinos player who has made the biggest impact over the course of the season.
It began in 1998 and is one of the highlights of Rhinos’ annual black tie presentation night, to be held this year at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Monday, September 18.
Each year the Yorkshire Evening Post asks readers to vote for their chosen player from a shortlist drawn up in conjunction with the club. One reader – and guest – will be invited to the awards night to hand the prize to the Shooting Star.
To be nominated, players must be aged 24 or under at the start of the season and not have made a full international appearance for one of the recognised Test-playing nations. Previous winners of the award – claimed last year by Jordan Lilley – have not been nominated.
The first nominee this year is prop Jordan Baldwinson.
A former Kingstone Press Championship young player of the year, who joined Leeds from Hunslet Warriors, Baldwinson made his Rhinos debut in 2013, but joined New Zealand Warriors at the end of that season.
The 22-year-old – who has signed for Wakefield Trinity next year – returned to England and had spells with Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers. He made one appearance for Rhinos last year before 12 this term, scoring one try.
He has spent most of this year on dual-registration with Featherstone, but has contributed some impressive stints when called upon.
Our second nominee is full-back Ashton Golding. The 20-year-old Stanningley product made his debut in 2014 and was handed the iconic No 1 jersey ahead of this season.
Despite some hamstring problems, Golding has played 20 times this term, scored three tries and earned a reputation for outstanding last-gasp defence on his own goal line.
Mikolaj Oledzki, our third nominee, made history this year by becoming the first Polish-born player to play for Leeds. The 18-year-old England academy prop, who was born in Gdansk, is rated as one of the brightest pack prospects in the game. Signed from Hunslet Warriors, Oledzki has spent much of this year learning his trade on loan at Bradford Bulls, but has also made three substitute appearances for Leeds, scoring a try on his debut in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win over Doncaster at Headingley.
That game was also memorable as our fourth nominee Jack Walker’s first senior appearance. Now 18, the full-back scored a sensational hat-trick and has touched down five times in seven senior appearances. Walker – who wears a head guard after suffering a fractured skull during a game for Oulton under-14s – has impressed on both defence and attack and recently signed a three-year full-time contract.
To vote, please email the name of your chosen player – from our list of nominees – to firstname.lastname@example.org (entering Shooting Star as the email subject). Please include your name, address and a daytime phone number.
Alternatively, send your entry on a postcard or the back of a sealed envelope, to Shooting Star, Sports Desk, Yorkshire Evening Post, No 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE. The player receiving the most votes will win the award.
All votes for that player will go into a draw and the winning reader will receive two tickets to the awards night and will present the Shooting Star trophy. Anybody can vote, but the draw is restricted to those aged 16 and over.
Normal YEP competition rules and regulations apply. The closing date for votes is 9am next Monday, August 21.
Meanwhile, French trialist Nittim Pedrero was among the try scorers for Rhinos under-19s in a 28-24 defeat by Wigan Warriors at Stanningley. Harry Newman, Spencer Darley and Loui McConnell also crossed and Tom Schofield kicked four goals.
Rhinos under-16s completed their season with a 46-22 win at London Broncos.