OLDHAM have made their first new signing for 2017 with the arrival on a two-year contract of 26-year-old prop-forward Ben Davies, who has played in Super League for Wigan Warriors, Castleford Tigers and Widnes Vikings.
Most of his 37 games at top level were with Widnes and he then had a spell in the Championship at Halifax before going to Whitehaven, where he played 56 games across the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The Cumbrians didn’t play him at Bower Fold on September 11 because there were relegation issues riding on the game and they were aware that Davies was very probably Oldham bound.
Said Leigh-born Ben: “I put up my hand to play, but the lads in charge said it was a weird situation. I could see that.”
Explaining the rationale behind the signing, coach Scott Naylor said one of the lessons learned in the club’s first season at Championship level was the need for a larger pool of forwards.
He added: “We didn’t have enough. A lot of them played in most of the games and it was relentless; week after week without a break in the fixtures and three Challenge Cup ties on top of the league games.
“We needed more forwards to choose from and Ben will be a good addition to the lads we already have. He’s played at a high level and he has been in good environments.
“He’s hugely experienced; the right age for a prop; and I know he’s really looking forward to coming.”
Davies, who lives in Leigh and works as a window fitter, played for Leigh East as a junior and won England honours as an under-15 and an under-18.
Wigan was his first pro club and he made his Super League debut for the Warriors as a 20-year-old.
He enjoyed his two seasons at Whitehaven, but driving up the M6 and back two or three times a week eventually wore him down.
“Travelling was no longer an option,” he said. “I live in Leigh, my girl friend lives in Stockport and she is expecting a baby. I couldn’t be going up to Cumbria any more, but Oldham suits me fine.
“I know a lot of the lads who play there. I could see from talking to Chris (Hamilton) that the club is going places so I had no hesitation in signing.
“I was sorry to see Haven go down. It’s a good club with good people, and I’ll miss a lot of them. But I had to move on. It happens. It’s life.
“All my thoughts and ambitions are with Oldham now. I played twice against them in the season that’s just finishing and I was impressed with the way they went about things.
“Their style should suit the way I play. I’m a bit sore after a hard season, but I’m already looking forward to November and starting all over again with the call to pre-season training.”