OLDHAM could face up to half a dozen Aussies with NRL experience when they open their Championship campaign against the London Broncos full-timers at Bower Fold, Stalybridge on Sunday (3pm).
Going all out to regain their place in Super League, Broncos have spent heavily to sign ten new players for 2016, seven of whom were in a 19-man squad that was hammered 34-0 at Dewsbury in their final warm-up game.
Heading the list of new boys is 26-year-old centre Nathan Stapleton, who played more than 60 first-grade games for Cronulla Sharks before joining Sydney Roosters.
“I’ll be one of the senior players in the squad, sharing my experience with the younger players,” said Stapleton, who made his NRL debut for the Sharks as a 19-year-old.
Said coach Andrew Henderson: “He’s been on the NRL scene for a number of years and he’ll add real quality to our outside backs.
“He’s looking forward to playing a different style of football in the UK.”
Other new signings include prop Mark Ioane (24), who has signed on a two-year deal from St George Illawarra; Mark Offerdahl, a former Manly Sea Eagles junior, who played for USA in the 2013 World Cup; and Israel Eliab, a stand-off from Papua New Guinea, who has played three times for PNG.
Henderson said of Ioane, who made his debut at Dewsbury: “It’s rare that a Championship club can attract a player with Mark’s NRL experience.
“A Junior Kiwi, he has come through the New Zealand Warriors youth system and has averaged ten NRL appearances per season over the last three years. That’s some achievement considering he is still young for a prop.”
Henderson’s English signings include half-backs Scott Leatherbarrow (Batley) and Jack Bussey (Featherstone) and forwards Alex Foster (Featherstone), Andy Ackers (Swinton), Eddie Battye (Sheffield) and James Cunningham (Hull), who is out of the Oldham game with a foot injury.
Commenting on his side’s heavy defeat at Dewsbury, the Broncos boss said: “We tried to play dry-weather football on a mud bath.
“In preparation for Oldham we’ll train this week on a heavy pitch and we’ll be drilling the team to adapt to these conditions as they could be similar at weekend.”
Due to a breakdown at the printers, Oldham’s season ticket holders won’t be able to collect them at Whitebank until noon tomorrow. They will be available from noon to 5pm tomorrow and then from 9am to 5pm on Thursday and Friday.
Roughyeds apologise for the delay, but point out that it was out of their control.
Ring the club on 07904898177 to book on club transport from Whitebank to Bower Fold on Sunday (£1.50 return,departs 1.45) or to reserve hospitality places at £35 a head which includes pre-match food and interviews with club personnel, half-time tea or coffee and post-match player presentations.