Making his Super League debut for Castleford Tigers is the big aim for 2019 for half-back Cory Aston.
The 23-year-old has spent two seasons at Betfred Super League clubs without making a first team appearance, but was head coach Daryl Powell’s choice as man of the match when the Tigers beat Featherstone Rovers 56-0 last weekend.
Aston played 23 times for Sheffield Eagles last year, on loan, after joining Tigers in the off-season.
He moved from Sheffield to Leeds at the end of 2016, but spent most of the year on loan at Featherstone and then Bradford Bulls before being released from his contract.
He was Eagles’ joint-top try scorer in 2018, with nine - as well as 28 goals - and feels he is ready to step up to the highest level.
“I have played a lot of Championship games over the last five years,” Aston pointed out.
“I’ve played over 100 games so to get a couple of Super League appearances this year would be fantastic and that’s definitely the aim.”
Aston is taking inspiration from Tigers clubmate Luke Gale and St Helens’ Danny Richardson, who was named at half-back in last year’s Super League Dream Team.
“Out of nowhere he kept Matty Smith out of the side all year,” Aston said of Richardson.
“I think that’s fantastic and I’ll take a bit of inspiration from that.
“I am confident my chance will come.
“Over the last year they have really helped my game at Cas, people like (assistant-coach) Ryan Sheridan, Powelly, Galey, Truey (Jake Trueman], Benny Roberts, Jamie Ellis.
“The quality of half-backs to learn stuff off is fantastic so you’ve just got to keep picking things up each session, the little things and keep working on your game, then it will come.”
Gale was Super League’s Man of Steel in 2017 and Aston can see similarities with his own career path.
“He is another inspiration,” he said.
“It isn’t until later in his career that he’s really kicked on and played for England.
“He has been around the blocks, he left Leeds and went to Doncaster and London and then went to Bradford before he came to Cas.
“He has become the best half-back in England so it happens.”
Powell praised Aston’s attitude this year and has urged him to continue playing the way he did against Rovers, when he created several tries, kicked two forty-20s and landed six goals.
Featherstone were understrength, fielding nine trialists, but Aston felt the game served its purpose.
He said: “It was good to blow some cobwebs off. You can train all pre-season, but it’s not the same as playing.
“It was a good confidence builder for me after a tough year, not getting an opportunity. I have been trying to work hard and for Powelly to give me the confidence of playing was brilliant and it is something I can build on.”