Leeds Rhinos’ rookie full-back pairing can ‘bring out best in each other’

Leeds Rhinos' Ashton Golding. PIC: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

SHOOTING STAR Ashton Golding insists his commitment to Leeds Rhinos’ cause will not waver, whether he is first choice or not.

Golding played his first competitive game of the season when Rhinos were beaten 23-6 at Widnes Vikings almost two weeks ago.

He was Rhinos’ outstanding player that day, but got his opportunity because of an injury to teenager Jack Walker, who is back in contention for tonight’s visit of Hull.

Boss Brian McDermott has two of the country’s best young full-backs to choose from and Golding said: “Jack is looking very good in training. We have been doing a lot of work together and it looks like we’ll both be fit and available to be picked, but it’s not just about the two of us, it’s about whoever takes to the field. Whether it’s me who plays or not, I am fully supportive of the boys.”

Golding is expected to start tonight, with Walker on the bench, giving him an opportunity to measure himself against another of Betfred Super League’s top full-backs, Jamie Shaul.

“He is a great player,” Golding said of tonight’s rival. “He feeds off everything Hull’s powerful players give him. He will take any opportunities going, defensively he is great and his speed is absolutely lightning. I thought he was unlucky to miss out on England’s World Cup squad. He was awesome throughout last year for Hull.

Leeds Rhinos' full-back Jack Walker. PIC: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

“He brought the ball back well for them so I hope we don’t see the best of him, because when he is at his best he is pretty much unstoppable. He is a really big threat. We have highlighted him, we will be looking to do a number on him and also a few of their other players.”

Golding said lining up against the likes of Shaul is a challenge he relishes. He added: “I want to see where I’m at, it is good to be able to play against players like Shaul and [Wigan’s Sam] Tomkins because it’s good to see how I am playing and if I can match up to or beat my opposite number.”

Golding is an admirer of Hull across the board. Of tonight’s visitors, he said: “It is going to be a feisty game, they are great all over the park. The backfield are awesome, they have got a pack you fear and then they’ve got some halves who dictate like puppet masters and move them about the field beautifully.

“It is going to be a difficult game, but at this level every game is. You’ve got to stick to your game plan, believe in what you are going to do and execute it well and hopefully that will get you through.”

it’s not just about the two of us, it’s about whoever takes to the field. Whether it’s me who plays or not, I am fully supportive of the boys.

Leeds Rhinos’ Ashton Golding

While Hull were beating the weather and opponents Warrington Wolves last Friday, the Beast from the East condemned Rhinos to an unscheduled weekend off. That was particularly frustrating for Golding after his recall to the side the previous week.

He said: “It was disappointing the Catalans game got cancelled, but I can fully understand why it did – it was Baltic conditions. I am itching to get back on the field and I know all the other boys are too.”

The break was unwanted just a month into the season, particularly after a painful defeat, but it gave Rhinos chance to rest some injured players and work on what went wrong at Widnes. Golding said: “I have just got to focus on myself and my individual performance at the moment.

“Everyone who pulls on the shirt is giving 110 per cent for the team and doing it to the best of their ability at all times. I have no qualms who I play with in this team, because everyone who wears the shirt earns the shirt.”

Brad Dwyer is expected to miss out for Leeds against Hull with a rib injury. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Brad Dwyer (ribs) is set to miss out tonight so Golding could have a spell at acting-half.

Of his own performance in his comeback game, he added: “It was probably the first 80 minutes I’ve strung together in five months so I wasn’t too displeased with it.

“There’s lots of places where I can improve, but I have been working on things. That extra week off has given me a bit more time to right some wrongs.”

Though Rhinos had no game last weekend, Golding made his competitive debut as coach of his amatuer club Stanningley who began their season with a win at Leigh East in the only National Conference game to beat the big freeze. He said: “It is great, if anything it has reignited my love for the sport, to be able to go down to the grassroots level and see how it’s all done, the nitty gritty. The way the game is played is different, but it’s hard and after the game everybody comes together.

“There’s a real community feel and it’s outstanding really.”

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