SCOTT Naylor has described Oldham RL Club’s capture of London Broncos’ half-back Scott Leatherbarrow as “an exciting one that shows how the club is progressing.”
Leatherbarrow (26) played 17 times this year for a Broncos side that finished second to Leigh Centurions in the regular Championship season and then took Salford Red Devils to the wire for the right to play in the Million Pound Game.
Wigan born, and keen to come back to his northern roots, he has signed a two-year deal, as has the club’s other new boy, prop Ben Davies from Whitehaven.
Said Naylor: “Scott was looking to get back up here and for me he’s the right person to bring in to fill a crucial role. He’s had four full seasons in the Championship and is very experienced at that level.
“It’s a great signing, very exciting. I’m looking forward to working with him and to seeing new combinations at half-back.”
A product of Wigan St Pat’s, Leatherbarrow spent his formative years with Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves, followed by a season at Keighley Cougars, two at Batley Bulldogs and then this year as a full-time pro in the capital.
A goalkicker, he has played exactly 100 senior games, scoring nearly 500 points.
In his two seasons at Batley, he amassed 315 points in 54 games and caught the eye of London boss Andrew Henderson, who lured him to the bright lights down south on a full-time contract this time last year.
Said Henderson: “Scotty leaves us with our very best wishes. In leading the side around the park, he will do a big job at Oldham.
“He’s at the stage of his career where he needs to be a starting half-back every week, shouldering the responsibility that goes with it, and I couldn’t guarantee him that because we have a few good half-backs here.
“Also, he wants to head home for family reasons so the move will be good for him and good for Oldham.
“He was a good player when he came from Batley — I saw a lot of potential in him — and he’s even better now, and a better person too, having worked in a full-time environment with myself and my staff and playing alongside other full-time players.”
After playing off the bench in London’s 46-6 hammering of Featherstone Rovers last Sunday, Leatherbarrow tweeted: “What a way to spend my 100th career game with a big win in my final game (for Broncos) with a great set of blokes. What a season we’ve had !”
He will live in Wigan with his girlfriend Georgia, who is expecting their first baby, and he will go back to the job he had before moving to London — teaching PE at a primary school in Haydock.
He said: “The capital was okay, but I’m a Wigan lad and there’s no place like home. I’m a home bird. We finally made up our mind when Georgia became pregnant. We wanted to be back with family.
“I was looking for a Championship club in Lancashire, somewhere that didn’t involve a lot of travelling and getting home from training late at night in midweek. I’ve done a lot of that in the past.
“When Oldham came in for me I knew right away it was the club for me.
“Chris (chairman Chris Hamilton) impressed me when telling me what the club was all about. I liked what he said so I told him there and then to get on with it and get the signing completed.
“He didn’t waste any time. It was all done and dusted in a couple of days. By the time we’re settled in Wigan again and I’m back in my old job in two weeks, I know I’ll be keen to get cracking in pre-season training.
“It’s a new challenge and I can’t wait.”