At the start of the 2017 season, my first as a Rhinos regular, I would not have thought in a million years that the Leeds side would reach the Grand Final, let alone win the thing. The team seemed disjointed, lacking in confidence and a bit short on creativity. Many players didn’t seem to offer much to the team and Brad Singleton was one of them.
In fact, in the fifth game of the season the Barrovian front rower was hit with a six match ban for elbowing Catalans’ Greg Bird – hardly a way to get your season going. However, as the season reached the middle of the season, Singleton was slowly starting to become a real threat and presence in the blue and amber. As a starting forward, it was key that he unsettled the opposition from the off to set a platform for his backs to flourish and, at the business end of the season, he was doing just that. His ability to punch holes came to the fore and saw him fast become one of Leeds’ top and most consistent performers in the Super 8s. Unlike his fellow front rowers, Singleton could often be seen running onto the ball at terrific pace while also running at an angle designed to catch players off guard – see his disallowed try against Hull FC in the Super League semi final for evidence of that. In a Leeds team where the middle players have to get through a lot of work, Singleton definitely didn’t shy away in 2017. In fact, five of the Rhinos’ starting pack from the Grand Final make up their top five tackle makers this season with Singleton coming in fourth with 687 – not too bad acknowledging the aforementioned ban he had in March.
Singleton’s developing consistency towards the end of the season bodes very well for next season where, at the age of 24, he will really want to cement his starting place in a very powerful Rhinos pack. A man of the match performance in the Super League semi final against Hull FC, coupled with one which may have earned him the same accolade in the Grand Final had Danny McGuire not played so incredibly, showed that Singleton is a man for the big occasion. England honours may well be on a future horizon for the Barrow Island junior. Indeed, he has already been selected for Ireland duty for this winter’s World Cup owing to his ancestry.
Brian McDermott will be delighted to see the development of Singleton this season and will be hoping that he can lead the Rhinos into a new era now the ‘Golden Generation’ is reaching it’s finale.