ROCHDALE prop Samir Tahraoui has thrown down the derby gauntlet ahead of next season’s Championship clashes with neighbours Oldham and Swinton Lions.
Newly-promoted Hornets, who have SIX former Oldham players in their 25-man squad for 2017, could potentially go head to head with Scott Naylor’s men in a handful of games next year — Law Cup, home and away in the league, Summer Bash and maybe in the Championship Shield.
Commenting on his side’s prospects in tier two, Samir said:
“We’re not going up just to make up the numbers.
“Oldham and Swinton upset a few teams last season (in their first season up) and we can replicate that.
“By keeping the bulk of last season’s squad, and adding to it, we will be a better side than both of them.
“We will cause some real upsets and we’ll be the best of the non full-time teams in the division.”
Hornets have completed their squad with the signing of Oldham utility back Jack Holmes, who is now a fully-fledged Rochdale player after ending last season at Spotland on loan, and North Wales Crusaders winger Rob Massam.
Holmes, who scored five tries in 14 games for the Roughyeds earlier in the season, scored two tries in his adopted side’s shock win at Toulouse Olympique which confirmed Rochdale as League 1 champions.
“Jack was outstanding, scoring two tries and doing a great job in shutting down some of Toulouse’s danger men,” said Hornets coach Alan Kilshaw.
In addition to their six former Oldham men — Lewis Palfrey, Gary Middlehurst, Holmes, Miles Greenwood, Josh Crowley and David Cookson — Rochdale have three Oldham-born players in Lewis Galbraith, Jack Francis and Danny Yates, the League 1 young player of the year.
Joe Burke, the Oldham prop, hopes he did enough in the Welsh second-row when John Kear’s men beat Serbia 50-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Llanelli, to keep his place against Jamaica at Wakefield on Friday (7.30) in the autumn international series.