OLDHAM RL have confirmed that Lewis Palfrey, stand-off, goalkicker and club captain for the past four years, has left the club to join derby rivals Rochdale Hornets.
Roughyeds offered him a new and improved contract for 2017, they said, but he turned it down.
Palfrey (26) has played in 96 games for Oldham across the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, scoring 22 tries, 350 goals, three drop goals and 791 points.
In the Roughyeds’ 2015 League 1 promotion campaign he topped the division’s goals and points charts and was named League 1 player of the year.
He scored 11 tries in 26 games that season, but only one in 26 in the Championship — an indication of the vast difference in quality between the two divisions.
Coach Scott Naylor, League 1 coach of the year in 2015, brought Palfrey to the club two years earlier and immediately made him his first captain. He has kept the job ever since.
Naylor said: “Lewis has decided to leave us and he goes with our best wishes.
“We offered him a new deal which was the best deal he has ever been offered at Oldham.
“He wanted to head in a different direction. After four years here he wanted something new and he wanted to play in a different environment, so he has left us.
“He’s been with us a long time — in the tough times and the good times — and we are grateful for everything he has done for the team and for the club.
“He has led the team in losing Grand Finals and then to promotion from League 1.
“He played a huge part in keeping us in the Championship this season and I hope the fans respect that and respect his decision to move on.
“We wish him all the best at his new club and with his new team mates and we will no doubt see him soon.”
Rochdale will be in the Championship next year when derby rivalry will be renewed with the additional tit-bit of Palfrey, Josh Crowley and David Cookson in Hornets colours.
Former London Broncos, Batley Bulldogs and Keighley Cougars half-back Scott Leatherbarrow, whose signing was announced by Oldham yesterday, will play a similar role for Roughyeds to the one vacated by Palfrey.
Ex-Oldham scrum-half Steve Roper, meanwhile, has left Rochdale to become new Whitehaven coach Carl Forster’s first signing for life in League 1.