SCOTT Naylor has said he will have no problem in lifting his Oldham RL team for Sunday’s Championship clash with leaders Leigh Centurions in the fall-out from the 70-10 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat by Warrington Wolves.
That score didn’t reflect how much an injury-depleted Roughyeds side put into the tie, as acknowledged by Wire boss Tony Smith, who took the unusual step of shaking hands with every Oldham player and going into their dressing room after the game for a chat.
With a long injury list, Joe Burke cup-tied and no dual-reg players available, Naylor went into battle against one of the best club sides in both hemispheres with only 16 fully-fit players plus Tom Ashton, who hadn’t played for months after an appendix operation.
“I’m completely over that now, but I still need to do a lot of work on my general fitness,” said centre Ashton, who went on for the last quarter of an hour, slotting in at left-centre with Danny Grimshaw switching to full-back and Richard Lepori going off.
The other three subs were Kenny Hughes, Adam Files and Sammy Gee —- not a single front-rower among them.
While partner club Huddersfield Giants retain an interest in the Challenge Cup they can’t risk their players turning out for another club in the same competition and becoming cup-tied.
And the Giants’ cup win against Leeds Rhinos on Friday night ended any thoughts Roughyeds had of boosting their squad the next day with dual-reg personnel.
Even so, Oldham scored first, lived with the Super League leaders for half an hour and gave them a few frights before running out of gas.
Naylor said he was proud of his squad’s efforts against unbelievable odds and added: “It’s all over now. It will soon be forgotten. We move on and prepare for Leigh. It doesn’t get any easier.
“But we’ve come through with no more injuries and next week we’ll have some lads back and we’ll have the dual-reg boys again.
“Leigh will be the start of our second half of the season and the main objective, from day one, has been to consolidate in this division.
“I’ve got a great bunch of lads and we talk a lot about ourselves. We don’t focus much on other teams. Whether that’s good or bad , I don’t really know, but it seems to work for us.
“And I don’t see any problem at all in picking up the boys for next week.”
As he did a fortnight ago, after the defeat at Whitehaven, Naylor has given the squad a night off tomorrow night , telling them to get a few days rest between Saturday and Thursday.