MICHAEL Ward has revealed that he and Jamel Chisholm have a wager as to who will finish the season with the most tries.
With a minimum of five games to go, Jamel has 10 and Michael 8 — and that’s a winger against a prop-forward.
Explained ‘Wardie’: “We were talking about these things before the start of the season and soon after Jamel had joined the club.
“He asked how many tries I scored last year and when I told him 10 he said he would beat that and would ‘walk it’.
“I couldn’t resist the challenge so we had a little wager. He’s two up on me at present but with a few games to play, anything can happen yet.”
Ward believes that, at the very least, Oldham can go to Bradford on Sunday, put up a good show and give the Bulls a good run for their money.
On the back of home defeats by Sheffield, Dewsbury and Halifax and a 20-0 hammering at Featherstone on the last day of the regular Championship season, Bulls were devastated to miss out on qualification for the Middle 8s and a chance to regain their Super League status.
They might have all the trappings of a ‘big’ club, but they’re embroiled in financial difficulties and face major decisions on the future direction of the club after losing out to Wakefield Wildcats in last year’s Million Pound game and not even getting close this year after a fifth-place finish in the Championship behind Leigh, London, Batley and Featherstone.
Nevertheless, they won 48-4 at Bower Fold on a Wednesday night in June and followed up with a 44-12 defeat of Roughyeds at The Provident Stadium (Odsal) five weeks ago.
And although they were guaranteed a top-four spot in the Shield it didn’t prevent them winning 46-18 at Whitehaven in round one and then demolishing Halifax 44-22 at home in round two.
At face value everything points to another comfortable Bradford win on Sunday, but Ward says Oldham are in the mood to give the full-timers a much sterner test than they did in the two regular season games.
“Each of those games was a bad day at the office for us,” said the Oldham prop, who is itching to get back into action again after missing the wins against Workington and Swinton because of a two-match RFL ban.
“We had a few injury problems when we played them at home in midweek and only three days after a tough clash at Dewsbury.
“At their place we were only six points down at half-time, but they scored an ‘easy’ try straight after half time and then got on a roll. If that happens, they’re quick and skilful and they know how to rattle up the points.
“It wasn’t our best defensive performance of the season but if we get that right, like the lads did at Swinton last week, we can show them we have a lot more to offer than we did in the other two games.”
For a prop forward to score as many tries as Ward does (18 and counting over last season and this one) is a remarkable achievement.
In Scott Naylor’s first season in charge, 2013, Ward failed to score in 20 appearances. Since then, he has touched down 25 times in 76 games.
He added: “We don’t have a particular plan for me to score tries, but I know I’m difficult to stop close to the line. It’s all about taking opportunities.”
Having missed only five games in the last three seasons, Ward found it “weird” to be sitting out the last two games when he wasn’t injured.
But, if selected, he hopes to make up for lost time in the remaining games, starting at Bradford on Sunday when he will do what he does before every game . . . set himself a challenge to be one of the top five players on the pitch.