OLDHAM will unveil new prop Joe Burke over the Easter weekend — if not tomorrow against Halifax at Bower Fold (3pm), then at Sale on Monday against Swinton Lions (2pm).
The 25-year-old Welsh international’s debut has been delayed for three weeks, first because he picked up a chest infection soon after signing and then because he was cup-tied for the Kells game.
Now, he’s primed to go and keen to make a big impression.
“He’s a good lad; he’s been training exceptionally well; and I’m looking forward to seeing him play,” said coach Scott Naylor.
Newport-born Burke, released by North Wales Crusaders at the height of their cash crisis, expects to be part of his new club’s two-match Easter Parade, but he is taking nothing for granted.
“There are a lot of good players here,” he said. “I’m crossing my fingers and waiting for ‘Nobby’ (Scott Naylor) to name the side to play Halifax.
“Players look forward to every game, but it’s a bit special when you make your first appearance for a new club because you so want to do well and put on a performance to show why you’ve been signed.
“I seem to have been around the club for a while without playing, but training has been good and I’ve certainly had time to settle in and feel comfortable with new team mates and new surroundings.”
There will be late checks on Danny Langtree (hamstring) and Danny Grimshaw (ankle), but Naylor expects them to come through and to have a full squad available (plus dual-registration players from Huddersfield) apart from long-term absentees.
Stand-off and captain Scott Murrell returns to the Halifax squad after injury, but hooker Ben Kaye and centre Steve Tyrer are out.
Coach Richard Marshall was at Bower Fold to watch Oldham beat amateurs Kells in the Challenge Cup.
“Oldham are a good team at home,” he said. “They were very strong against Kells so we’ve got to treat them with the utmost respect.
“In this competition anybody can beat anybody as we’ve already seen in the league and in the Challenge Cup.”
OLDHAM (from): Lepori, Clay, Holmes, Ford, Chisholm, Roper, Grimshaw, Palfrey, Joy, Owen, Files, Hughes, Spencer, Ward, Burke, Thompson, Gee, Langtree, Middlehurst, Hope plus dual-reg representation.
HALIFAX (from, alphabetical order): Ambler, Barber, Bracek, Cahalane, Eccleston, Fairbank. Greenwood, Heaton, Manning, B Moore, G Moore, R Moore, Morris, Murrell, A Robinson, C Robinson, Saltonstall, Smeaton, Tangata.