RECRUITS Cory Aston and Jack Ormondroyd will both make their first appearance for Leeds Rhinos in the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day.
Aston, signed from Sheffield Eagles, will start at scrum-half and former Featherstone Rovers forward Ormondroyd has been named on the bench.
New No 1 Ashton Golding takes the full-back slot, with Liam Sutcliffe at stand-off.
With no experienced specialist hooker in the squad following James Segeyaro’s walk-out, scrum-half Jordan Lilley will be at No 9.
Carl Ablett will captain the team from the centres and Brett Delaney is set to start in the second-row.
It will be the Aussie’s first game since suffering a dislocated kneecap and internal damage to the joint in Leeds’ win in the Qualifiers at Featherstone four months ago.
Teenager Josh Jordan-Roberts, who made his debut against Leigh in Rhinos’ final game of last season, will get an opportunity in the pack.
Leeds, who are due to wear their Super League home kit, will field six substitutes and the matchday 19 are all drawn from the club’s first-team squad.
England duo Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall were due to begin training today, but Stevie Ward is still on his off-season break.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan is suspended for the first two games of Rhinos’ pre-season campaign and Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire, who finished 2016 season on the casualty list, will not feature on Boxing Day.
Aston, 21, is expected to start the 2017 season on dual-registration with Featherstone Rovers, but knows next week’s game is an opportunity to prove he can shine against Super League opposition.
“I am looking forward to getting the chance to have a run out on Boxing Day,” he said.
“It is a big historical fixture and I have never had the chance to play on Boxing Day before.
“It will be a chance for me to show the coaching staff what I can do in a game situation.”
Aston made his Eagles debut as an 18-year-old in 2013 and was in their team which reached the Qualifiers two years later.
He played 69 times in the Kingstone Press Championship and kicked 93 goals for Sheffield in 2016 . He has been training since pre-season began last month and reflected: “It was pretty surreal on that first morning when I came to training at Kirkstall. I walked through the door and then you are changing alongside blokes who you had only ever seen on television, since you were young, playing for England and Leeds.
“It didn’t take long to get used to it, but it was strange at first. Pre-season has been tough and the coaching staff have really been putting us through our paces. There have been a few tired afternoons. I like to go home and have a nap after training because it has been tough, but I am enjoying the challenge.”
Wakefield – winners of last year’s festive fixture – have yet to announce their line-up, but expect to field a strong squad.
Leeds’ team: Golding, Briscoe, Keinhorst, Ablett, Handley, Sutcliffe, Aston, Singleton, Lilley, Garbutt, Jordan-Roberts, Delaney, Cuthbertson. Subs Hallas, Mullally, Walters, Ormondroyd, Baldwinson, Smith.