Aiton urges NRL to consider an Australian Challenge Cup

Leeds hooker Paul Aiton believes that the Challenge Cup concept could work in Australia.

The former Penrith Panthers man was introduced to the competition while he was playing in Australia by a coach.

Now he has experienced it first-hand, he is covinced that the idea would bring a new level of interest to Australian rugby league.

“I think they should have a look at Super League and what they’ve done with this competition and seriously consider doing something like this,” he told Love Rugby League.

“It’s so good for the game on all levels. It’s involving a lot of teams from two or three different levels and it’s something they should look at.

“You have to start being smart, and it’s good because you have to use your whole roster, you’re not just depending on your top guys.

“There’s a heap of young kids you can use as well, and move the team round. You’ve just got to be smarter about how you use the players.

“I remember when I debuted at Penrith, Matty Elliott was there. He used to put it on during training and we used to watch it.

“A little bit got explained to me then, about its unique nature.

“The concept is great. But it wasn’t until I got here that I fully understood how many teams were actually involved in the competition.

“I think it’s a great competition and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”

Leeds face Castleford Tigers in Saturday’s Wembley final, and Aiton will find himself in opposition to Daryl Clark.

The Papua New Guinea international knows that Clark will provide him with plenty of work in defence, especially around the ruck area.

“He’s definitely one of the game’s great young players,” he said.

“Being over here now in my third year, I’ve seen him developing his game. He’s a great young player and he’s getting better every year.

“I’ll be keeping on my toes around the ruck. I definitely don’t want to nod off around there, because he’s lightning sharp.

“So I’ll be on my A game for sure.”

As a Papua New Guinea international, Aiton also wants plenty of people ‘back home’ to be tuning into his exploits on Saturday at Wembley.

“Get to a TV!” he urged people in PNG.

“I know not everyone has TVs there, and it’s on pay TV, but get to a screen if you can.

“Get there and understand the competition, then you’ll really appreciate what this compeition’s about.”

The dummy half is also delighted that the chance has come to play in a final now that he is reaching the senior years of his career.

“I guess when you pass the halfway mark in your career you wonder if you’re ever going to get to those big games,” he said.

“Especially a Challenge Cup final, it’s such a great competition.

“To be in the lead up to one, it’s a bloody good feeling!”

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