Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has challenged young fullback Jack Walker to go out and wrestle the club’s number one shirt away from the clutches of current incumbent Ashton Golding after he agreed a new deal with the club.
Walker finally put pen to paper on a three-year deal to become part of Leeds’ first-team for 2018 and beyond after catching the eye with his performances so far this season.
Golding will be at fullback for Leeds’ clash with Wigan tonight, as he has been for most of the year, but McDermott wants to see Walker push him in the coming weeks, months and years for the shirt.
He said: “He’s got to wrestle that off Ash Golding, who’s also an unbelievably committed bloke. Ash Golding has been a joy really; I know there’s some stuff in his game that he wants to be better at but he’s only a young man.
“It’s hard listening to some of the criticism of Ash Golding at the moment. He’s still only a young man; I remember Zak Hardaker starting to play fullback with us in about 2012 having come to us as a centre and he hasn’t had an easy run and he’s still learning, is Zak. We make a commitment to young men and when you hand him the number one shirt, we didn’t hand it over to a bloke who is at the top of his game.
“You’ve got a bloke in Ash Golding who loves the club and who will be there when times are tough.. so in terms of making assurances to anybody else about signing for the club? No chance. You fall in love with us first; you want to become part of us and once you’re in it and you say you’re with us, you’ll start getting some backing from us.”
McDermott also said he’s looking forward to seeing how winger Tom Briscoe responds to a difficult few weeks form-wise.
“I’ve got no real issue with people questioning Tom and that’s bound to happen given what went on,” said McDermott.
“But the brilliant part of it is Tom can react. It’s not going to be an easy reaction and an easy turnaround, but I back Tom to have a say this year for us.
“It was hard footage for Tom to see and it’s a harsh reality what happened at the weekend. But that’s why if and when it comes good – I’m going to put my money on when it comes good – that’s one of the reasons we’re all involved in sport, for these moments.
“It was a dark moment on Saturday but then we’ve all had dark moments. In my time at this club I’ve seen some of our leading players have some dark moments, not just for one game but for three or four games on the bounce.
“You stick with them, you see them through it, you back them knowing full well they’ll come good.”