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Magic Weekend 2022: Ashton Golding happy as Huddersfield Giants' man for all positions

Ashton Golding and his Huddersfield team-mates get the second day of this year's Betfred Super League Magic Weekend under way against Salford Red Devils; watch all six matches from St James' Park in Newcastle live on Sky Sports on Saturday and Sunday

Picture by Alex Whitehead/ - 09/04/2022 - Rugby League - Betfred Challenge Cup: Quarter-Final - Huddersfield Giants vs Hull FC - The John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield, England - Huddersfield’s Ashton Golding.

In any team sport, the ‘utility player’ tag is one that can often be seen as little more than a backhanded compliment.

Try telling that to Ashton Golding though. Although he made his name as full-back, the 25-year-old has embraced a new role with Huddersfield Giants in 2022 which has seen him filling a variety of positions off the interchange bench.

The emergence of Tui Lolohea, currently joint-top with Jai Field in the Betfred Super League's Man of Steel standings, as the Giants' full-back this season would have otherwise kept Golding on the sidelines. Yet he could not be happier about being asked to fill multiple positions when needed.

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"I love it," Golding, now in his third season at Huddersfield, told Sky Sports. "You see things more from a different perspective, so you get a little bit more of an understanding why people make certain decisions.

"So, when you play against them, you understand why the hooker is thinking that and understanding what you can do to make him think. You can manipulate other players on the opposition because you've played there, so it's kind of handy playing every position.

"It's difficult in prep and probably makes my training a little harder because you don't know, you can only play in one place, so you have to prep for four positions each week.

"But it's great, I love it. It's me as a player; I'm an athlete, I'm a rugby player and it kind of works in tandem in that respect."

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Golding is not the only player in Super League to have relished playing in multiple positions. Stefan Ratchford's ability to play in just about any position on the field has been highly prized by Warrington Wolves during his 10 years with the club, while up-and-coming St Helens star Jack Welsby took on multiple roles while being groomed to succeed Lachlan Coote as full-back this year.

A sign of how well the Jamaica international has adapted is shown in his GPS statistics from the current season, where he led the way in Super League in both distance covered and intensity prior to Round 17, and those are numbers he keeps a close eye on.

"You've got to keep yourself sharp and each year you get older, and I like to think I can still compete with the younger version of myself and keep relevant," Golding said.

"Building into me as a player and the game I play now, it's very important I keep all of my tools sharp because I don't know where I'll play. To be able to play everywhere is kind of a blessing.

I love it. You see things more from a different perspective, so you get a little bit more of an understanding why people make certain decisions.
Ashton Golding on his varied role at Huddersfield

"The stats are good, but I'd sacrifice those for two points in the league every day of the week. It's nice to see, but it also just is what it is."

Golding has always had a determination to keep bettering himself in terms of his performance levels, with the guidance of Huddersfield's strength and conditioning head Greg Brown proving particularly invaluable.

Indeed, his approach now is much more tailored compared to his early days when he was coming through the ranks at former club Leeds Rhinos.

"I've always enjoyed my fitness - that's just me as a player and that's how I got my contract threatened when I was at Leeds because I was running to training and things," Golding said.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/ - 28/04/2022 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League: Round 11 - Wakefield Trinity vs Huddersfield Giants - Be Well Support Stadium, Wakefield, England - Huddersfield’s Ashton Golding passes to Innes Senior.
Image: Ashton Golding is feeling the benefits of Huddersfield's training programme

"I used to run 15 miles on a Monday night and play touch rugby. It helped me to relax and I never thought about the physical damage I was doing, I just ran.

"But I'm older and a bit smarter now, and I do it at the right times under the guidance of the conditioning staff at the back end of my Leeds career and building into my Huddersfield career. It's really smart the way we train and it's only benefitted me, understanding my body more.

"That's the biggest thing I've had to understand. I like to think I can beat anyone at anything - I'm a competitor - but sometimes you need rest, and those stats are probably reflective of the work my team-mates are doing."

His Giants team-mates have undoubtedly been enjoying a good season too as Huddersfield sit fourth in Super League heading into Sunday's Magic Weekend clash with Salford Red Devils, even with a 26-18 defeat away to Castleford Tigers last Friday bringing to an end a run of six successive wins in the competition.

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Highlights of the Super League clash between Castleford Tigers and Huddersfield Giants.

Golding puts being among the competition's high-flyers and the run to this year's Betfred Challenge Cup final, where a late try from Liam Marshall denied them victory over Wigan Warriors, down to the "team-first" approach instilled under head coach Ian Watson, and is delighted to be seeing progress off the field at the John Smith's Stadium too.

"Everyone has the same mentality and when you get a shirt or when you do something, you like to leave it in a better position," Golding said.

"From when certain people have come in to now, it's going in the right direction. Not performance-based, the background and the actual infrastructure at Huddersfield Giants is going in the right direction.

"That, for me, is rewarding, from when I got here to now, to see the how the professionalism and things like that are so massively embedded throughout the club."

Huddersfield kick off the second day of this year's Magic Weekend in Newcastle against Salford on Sunday, July 10 (1pm kick-off). Watch that match and all of the other five games from this year's event at St James' Park live on Sky Sports.

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