Big-match preview

Oldham v London Broncos (3pm, Sunday, Bower Fold, Stalybridge))

Scott Naylor, the Oldham coach, saw his team promoted from League 1, and believes the club have kicked on. “Things have improved again from last year,” he said. “I kept most of the lads from last year, firstly because I think they deserved to have a crack in this division, given that they spent three years trying to get here. And I think the team as a unit will take us a long way this year, the fact that they’ve played together for three years and been through the highs and lows. That will stand us in good stead for what will be a very tough season.

“We lost George Tyson and Adam Neal and they went on to bigger and better things but we’ve brought in lads of real quality. The squad’s pretty small; I always start with a small squad because I believe there are always a couple of players who become available. We also have the dual-registration with Huddersfield Giants, which obviously this year is a lot more important.

“Our first two games are London Broncos at home and Leigh away, so to start with two full-time teams is very difficult but we wouldn’t want to be in this division if we didn’t play against that kind of quality. We’ll learn more from those games than from the teams we’re targeting a little bit more. It’s good for the lads to play against those kind of players and to see where they are individually and to see where we are as a team.

“The London game is going to be interesting because it’s our first home game. My lads are going to absolutely fired up and ready for it. It’s going to be good to see where we are early on in the season.”

Craig Briscoe is out with a knee problem and Danny Grimshaw will face a late test.

Andrew Henderson, London Broncos coach said: “I think we’ve recruited a little bit better this year, we’ve got a bit more strength in depth. When you’re coming up against teams like Oldham, who have been promoted, they’ve got nothing to lose, so they’re a dangerous animal.

“It’s early in the season too. They’re going to come out with a lot of fire and intensity and energy because they want to impress their coach but also they want to show the rest of the competition they deserve to be in the Championship.

“I don’t expect anything more than an energetic performance from Oldham. They will play a very simple game because the conditions are more than likely to be wet and heavy. For us it’s about matching them in terms of our energy and enthusiasm and obviously playing the more disciplined game of Rugby League. Hopefully our fitness will come over the top of them in the back end of the game.”

The Broncos will be without Rhys Lovegrove and Mark Offerdahl while Israel Eliab is still waiting for his visa. James Cunningham is doubtful with a foot injury.

Admission prices: standing, adults £15, concessions £12, under-16s £3; sitting, adults £17, concessions £14, under-16s £5.


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