Paul Aiton opens up on Leeds Rhinos heartbreak and why he retired after Super League spell

Paul Aiton was once one of the most highly-rated hookers in Super League.

Aiton, who played for Leeds, Wakefield and Catalans in the Super League over a period of seven seasons, was forced to retire in 2018 after suffering a number of concussion injuries.

And, he was also one of the most unlucky; despite playing and winning the 2014 Challenge Cup Final with Leeds Rhinos, the hooker missed out on both the Challenge Cup Final and the Super League Grand Final a year later and the Wembley occasion once more in 2018 with the Catalans Dragons.

He previously told The David Mead Podcast just how difficult that had been.

“I remember it well; Ashton Sims was running the ball and I wanted to hit him, so I shot out of the line and swung my arm and broke my arm on his knee,” Aiton said.

“There was no need to do that and that was the most frustrating thing for me – we (Leeds) won nearly every game and the following week was the Challenge Cup Final.

“After that they won the League Leaders’ Shield and the Grand Final so they won the treble and I missed out on that.

“I retired from concussions in 2018 and the (Catalans) Dragons won the Challenge Cup that year too.”

Aiton said that retirement was a difficult decision to make, but that it had to be done.

“When I first started playing, when you got concussion nobody really thought anything of it, but now we’re in a better place.

“I didn’t want to forget things with my son and thought I had to stop, so my career fizzled out.

“The concussion stuff is ok now, but you don’t learn to look for these things if they don’t happen to you.”

But, Aiton now has a major role to play with Queensland Intrust Super Cup side PNG Hunters in 2022; not only is he assistant coach, he also helps bridge the language barrier between the Australian coaching staff and the Papua New Guinean players who speak Tok Pisin.

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