THE SEARCH begins today for Leeds Rhinos’ latest Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star.
It has not been the best of seasons for Rhinos, but the emergence of more talented young players is one positive they will take from 2016.
Three Leeds teenagers represented England on their recent Australian tour, academy players Sam Hallas and Cameron Smith have both had a taste of the top level and the likes of Ashton Golding, Jordan Lilley, Brad Singleton and Josh Walters have all continued their progress.
The Shooting Star award goes to the young 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 19.
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 winger Ash Handley – have not been nominated.
The first nominee this year is winger/full-back Ashton Golding. The 19-year-old Stanningley product made his debut in 2014, played four times last year and has contributed eight appearances and two off the bench this term.
Despite suffering an ankle injury in the round two defeat at Widnes Vikings, the pacy teenager has shown evidence of his massive potential both on attack and defence.
The second nominee is half-back Jordan Lilley. Introduced to Super League last year, he became part of the full-time squad in the off-season and has made 16 starts, four substitute appearances and kicked 30 goals in 2016..
A series of injuries suffered by captain Danny McGuire led to the 19-year-old – who was born on the same day as Golding and also came through the Stanningley production line –becoming a semi-regular in the side and he has been tipped as a future star.
Brad Singleton, the third nominee, has been in Rhinos’ squad since 2011 and is now established as one of Rhinos’ first-choice props.
The tough and pacy 23-year-old missed only two games last year – playing in the Wembley and Old Trafford triumphs –and has added 14 starts, seven appearances off the bench and three tries, to his Rhinos record this term.
Another Grand Final winner, back-rower Josh Walters, is our final nominee.
A shock inclusion in the 2015 Old Trafford side, the rugby union convert scored the try which levelled the scores and set up Kevin Sinfield’s winning conversion.
Walters, 21, has been hampered by injury this year, but made three appearances and ten as a sub’ – scoring two tries – before joining Featherstone Rovers on loan.
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 5pm next Monday, August 24.