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Ashton Golding reflects on ‘wild’ 2018 season

It is the same the world over, no matter what field of work you may be in: when the new year approaches, you begin to take stock of what has gone before you over the past 12 months. The festive season has a way of making people adopt a far more pragmatic attitude as well as being alarmingly honest. It’s hard to tell whether it is the season of goodwill to all mankind that makes people show a startling amount of self-awareness or the never-ending supply of Christmas cognac on offer. This time around, it’s Leeds Rhinos’ 22-year-old “Mr Utility” Ashton Golding who is feeling in a reflective mood.

The 2018 season for the Leeds Rhinos was anything but spectacular, and it’s more than fair to say that the Super League giants grossly underachieved as they eventually finished in a disappointing ninth position. It was a season in stark contrast to 2017, where the Rhinos romped to the title by beating the Castleford Tigers 24-6 at Old Trafford. The disparity between the success of the 2017 campaign and failure of the 2018 season has Golding trying to pinpoint just what exactly went wrong this time out.

“I think individually we were all going through some stuff and looked at ourselves too much rather than the greater good.” The 22-year-old also reflects on the intentions of the side and insisted that once on the field of play, “If you aren’t honest you get sussed out in 30 seconds.” In a roundabout way, Ashton looks to be suggesting that the Rhinos may have got a bit ahead of themselves after reaching the dizzy heights they did in 2017.

The young fullback may not have been alone in thinking that given the changes behind the scene that have taken place as the board decided to sack Brian McDermott who was and will be for some time to come the club’s most successful coach. There was obviously a need for Leeds Rhinos to start afresh and with new head coach David Furner in charge, there is every chance the West Yorkshire club will do just that – but they will have to go back to basics.

There’s a definite trend in world rugby that illustrates a title-winning team from the year before has the potential to drop their standards dramatically for the upcoming season.

England’s rugby union side proved that by winning the Six Nations in 2017 only to finish last in the table for 2018 and that has done some damage to their chances of winning in 2019 as Jones’ men are now backed at outside odds of 3/1 by Paddy Power to find their form again and win back the trophy they lost. At the end of the day, the Leeds Rhinos haven’t been the first and won’t be the last rugby team to suffer a massive dip in form after winning silverware, it’s now about righting the wrongs of a turbulent past campaign.

There won’t be as much Christmas cheer for the likes of Kevin Sinfield and the rest of the Leeds Rhinos hierarchy this season but there will be a quiet optimism that they can get it right in 2019. It’s all about bounce back ability and young Ashton Golding is backing the Rhinos to charge up the league table next season after a wild 2018.

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