WHEN Castleford Tigers’ Cory Aston was playing for Newcastle Thunder in a 56-6 League One win against West Wales Raiders last month, he could have been forgiven for feeling his chances of a Super League debut were further away than ever.
At the age of 24, however, and more than two years after thinking it might first happen, the talented half-back finally achieved that aim as Castleford beat Wakefield Trinity 28-26 on Thursday.
It is certainly an under-statement to say Aston, who gleefully scored a debut try, has had to bide his time for the moment.
Such was his promise, Leeds Rhinos paid Championship club Sheffield Eagles a transfer fee for his services in 2016 but, having been farmed out back to the second-tier with Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls, he was released after just one year, having not played a single game.
Castleford, instead, took him on but, again, Aston spent most of last season away from his parent club, heading back to Sheffield where his dad, Mark, is head coach, and playing 23 games.
Yet even with three half-backs injured at Wheldon Road this term – Luke Gale, Jamie Ellis and Jordan Rankin – Aston found himself slipping further, playing three times for Newcastle.
Nevertheless, Powell gave him his chance at last against Wakefield and rarely will you see a more assured top-flight debut.
Aston made one searing break to help set up James Clare’s second try and then went over himself, supporting up the middle as Castleford went 22-0 ahead inside the opening half-hour.
He conceded: “It’s been a very tough two-and-a-half-years.
“There has been some low points but I’ve just stuck with it.
“I’ve just kept working and to finally get that opportunity after two-and-a-half years of being in the Super League systems and not quite getting that chance, to finally get it and get the win was a dream come true.”
Aston showed enough quality, whether through his distribution, kicking or defence, to suggest he certainly has a future at this level and he will hope to retain his place for Easter Monday’s trip to Catalans Dragons.
He said: “It was pretty tough that first half. I think I went a little bit too hard, hell for leather, so in that second half I was just clinging on a little bit.
“Obviously, that comes with experience playing at this level; it was probably the fastest and one of the toughest games I’ve played in. But to get a victory and in a local derby as well is fantastic.
“Perpignan is a good chance for me to back up, keep my place and go from there so we’ll see.”
Aston was on hand to finish off after props Liam Watts and Daniel Smith cut open Wakefield’s middle for his debut try and he recalled: “To get over between the posts was brilliant.
“But it was right in front of the Wakey fans; I just let a bit of emotion out straight away and then remembered where I was! But it was a great way to cap my debut.”
His Castleford-born father –a stellar half-back who won the Lance Todd Trophy when Sheffield stunned Wigan in the 1998 Challenge Cup final – watched on.
Aston said: “I’ll see what he’s got to say. I’m sure he’ll pick up a few points on my game! But he’ll be very proud and pleased, too.”