Back in the old routine

WITH pre-season training starting tonight, Oldham RL Club have revealed they are hoping to complete one more signing before the 2017 Championship campaign begins in early February.

They currently have 21 players on next season’s roster and by planning on going into battle with 22 it appears they may be following coach Scott Naylor’s tried and trusted policy of keeping a couple of slots open for possible additional activity further down the line.

“We’re more or less nearing completion, but we’ll see what happens,” said Naylor, who will head-up tonight’s meet-and-greet session at the Oasis Academy site on Hollins Road.

Apart from prop Joe Burke and on-loan centre Kieran Gill, the remaining 19 players will all be present, including new signings Scott Leatherbarrow, Ben Davies, Nathan Chappell, Adam Neal, George Tyson and David Hewitt.

Neal, Tyson and Hewitt, who was at that stage on loan from St Helens, all played for Roughyeds in the 2015 League One promotion season but, having helped to get Naylor’s men into the Championship, this talented trio went to Sheffield Eagles on full-time professional contracts.

Half-back Hewitt came back for a second loan spell last season, but he is now a fully-fledged and contracted Oldham player, as are Neal and Tyson, who were freed by Eagles due to that club’s well-documented financial problems and its decision to go back to part-time professionalism

All three played for Eagles last season, alongside Chappell, another new signing who can play equally well at centre and second-row.

Burke has been given more time off, in which to re-charge his batteries, having played three times for Wales in 2017 World Cup qualifiers since Oldham’s fixtures finished.

On-loan Gill is similarly reprieved because he is doing his pre-season work as a full-time pro and highly valued member of the Castleford Tigers club.

Said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton: “It all starts again tonight when the players are back in for training. It’s hard to get across the real importance of pre-season, without which a player wouldn’t have the fitness and stamina to see him through a long campaign.

“Fortunately, three of our six new signings have played for us previously so they will know what to expect. The other three are known to have first-class attitudes towards hard work and the demands of pre-season —- a big factor in our decisions to sign them.”

Fans are reminded that Oldham, like all clubs, rely heavily on season-ticket sales at this time of year. Current prices are on offer until December 23 and anyone wishing to spread the cost over three equal payments can do so on line up to November 30. For further details visit the dedicated payments site.

Bradford Bulls, meanwhile, have gone into administration for the third time since 2012 after facing a winding-up petition from the tax man in October.

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