LEEDS RHINOS legend Keith Senior reckons rookie recruit Cory Aston has the tools to succeed in Super League.
Aston, 21, has joined Rhinos on a two-year deal from Sheffield Eagles, where Senior was assistant-coach.
The half-back – son of Eagles team boss Mark Aston – made his debut in the Championship aged 18. He is yet to play in the top flight and has been awarded the No 26 jersey for next season, which suggests he will have to bide his time for a crack at Super League, but Senior, who starred for Leeds from 1999-2011, believes Aston has the ability to make an impact when he gets his chance.
“It is in his hands,” said Senior, who also joined Leeds from Sheffield. “He has certainly got all the potential and attributes to go forward.”
Aston scored 31 tries in 69 Championship appearances for Sheffield and landed 93 goals last season. After finishing third on the 2015 Championship table Eagles went full-time a year ago, but slumped to seventh at the end of the regular rounds. It was a tough campaign, but Senior reckons Aston will be better for the experience.
“He is a good kid,” Senior said. “He is still only young, he has just turned 21. This year has been really tough for him, he has been the main half-back and there was a lot of weight on his shoulders. The pack let us down a bit, some of the experienced players and he took a lot of the brunt. It has been good for him, it has shown him the harsh reality that it’s not always rosy.”
Senior reckons Cory is a different type of player to his father, who was man of the match when Sheffield stunned Wigan Warriors in the 1998 Challenge Cup final.
He said: “The main point he struggles with is possibly his kicking game and game-management, but he has got some good skill and he has got some speed. Tubby [Mark Aston] was more of a game-manager so they are polar opposites in that respect. He can do the flashy things and he reminds me a bit of [Rhinos captain] Danny McGuire. If there’s another half-back who can manage the game, like Kevin Sinfield, he can do all the class stuff.
“I’ve heard Jordan Lilley is a great manager of the game, so the two young kids could complement each other. He can defend as well. He likes getting in the mix and whacking people.”
Senior added: “It will be good for him to experience another culture and get out of Tubby’s shadow.
“It will be good to get an opinion from another coach. He won’t be able to get away with anything with [Leeds boss] Brian McDermott and that will make him grow and become a better player.
It can only be a positive for him being in Leeds’ culture and set-up. It is a great environment.”
Senior is out of work after Eagles reverted to part-time at the end of the season, but has an offer to return in his assistant-coach role. He is also planning to take part in a rugby union coaching course and is considering gaining a sports strength and conditioning qualification.