THE size of the task confronting Oldham in the cup-tie at Hull KR tomorrow (2pm kick-off) can be measured by the fact that while Roughyeds were in the sport’s third tier last August Rovers were at Wembley in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final.
They were smashed by Leeds Rhinos and have had it tough since, currently placed third bottom in Super League with only two wins and a draw in 11 outings.
They are reeling from a few injuries — as are Oldham — but the side that crashed to a 40-0 defeat by Catalans Dragons at the KC Lightstream Stadium last Thursday night was still packed with players of considerable experience at the top level, either in this country or in Australia.
How about Ben Cockayne, Shaun Lunt and former NRL men Ken Sio (Parramatta Eels), Maurice Blair (Gold Coast Titans), Dane Tilse (Canberra Raiders) and Mitch Allgood (Parramatta Eels) ?
Throw in numerous signings from other Super League clubs, such as Iain Thornley and Oldham-born James Greenwood from Wigan Warriors; Keiran Dixon from London Broncos; and Robbie Mulhern and Chris Clarkson from Leeds Rhinos and it puts rather a different slant on indications from some quarters that Roughyeds might be lining up against a patched-up team of young hopefuls from the club’s academy.
There may be two or three of those, but last week’s squad will most likely be strengthened by the return from injury of the experienced back-row forward James Donaldson — back for his first game since he dislocated a wrist at Warrington early in the season — and French international hooker John Boudebza.
Interim coach James Webster paid Oldham the respect of travelling to Bower Fold to watch them beat full-timers Sheffield Eagles 21-20.
And former Saddleworth Rangers youngster Greenwood has said that his home-town club will leave nothing in the dressing room as they look to cause a major shock.
“As underdogs they can throw everything at us and see what happens,” he added. “They’ll be on a high too after their recent results.”
View from the Roughyeds camp was provided by Gary Middlehurst. who said: “I don’t see why we can’t go there and give a good account of ourselves.
“Like any game, we’ve got to believe we can win. They’ll have had a longer break between games than we’ve had but we’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”