Updates from the training ground

DANNY Grimshaw put club before self and battled through the pain barrier last season as newly-promoted Oldham rose to the challenge of Championship rugby.

Looking ahead to the former Hunslet man’s groin operation in nine days’ time, Roughyeds boss Scott Naylor revealed that ‘Grimmer’ played for two-thirds of last season while restricted by the painful injury

“He did a great job for us,” said Naylor, of the man who put his hand up to bolster the right-centre spot in most of his 20 appearances following the early-season departures of Jon Ford and Tom Ashton.

If all goes well with surgery, added the Oldham boss, Grimshaw will be targeting a return to action in the second of three pre-season warm-up games at Barrow on January 15, a little more than five weeks after his date with a leading surgeon in Leicester.

“He can’t wait to get the operation done. And he’s looking forward, as we are, to his being fully fit and injury free the next time he takes to the field.”

Now in week three of pre-season training, Naylor said everything was going well, on schedule and according to plan.

One of his biggest close-season decisions will be the appointment of a club captain to succeed Lewis Palfrey, who led the side for four seasons before moving on to join derby rivals Rochdale, who have named him as one of five team leaders at the Crown Oil Arena.

Said Naylor: “I’ve a few lads in mind who I think will handle the captaincy, but there’s no decision yet. ‘Spanner’ and Pete (his assistants Lee Spencer and Peter Carey) will also have an input on this one, but we have a very similar squad to last year’s so it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with the right man.

“In the meantime, everything is running well. We’ve got new and additional backroom staff this year and that’s very beneficial because it enables us to spend more quality time in small groups or even one-on-one.

“Some of the new lads seemed a bit surprised initially at what we were doing — we really do work hard and at a high level — but they’ve settled in superbly.

“Even accounting for training between Christmas and New Year, we’ve a pre-season of only six or seven weeks before the first warm-up game at Swinton on January 8 and that’s not a lot of time for new signings to get acquainted with everything.

“Technically and socially, they’ve a lot to get used to — not least listening to me and discovering how I like my rugby and how I like my side to play.

“It was only fair to give Joe Burke some time off after his games for Wales in the 2017 World Cup qualifiers, but he’s back with us tonight and he’ll be all the better for his break.

“Nathan Chappell should be training again in a couple of weeks (after minor surgery on a knee) and although Sammy Gee still has the odd niggle around the ankle he injured at Bradford in August, it’s nothing to keep him out of the friendlies.

“It’s a tough ask to play Swinton and Barrow away and then Rochdale at Bower Fold for the Law Cup, but that’s exactly what we want — tough prep for a tough season.

“Kieran Gill (season-long loan from Castleford) is doing his pre-season stuff as a full-time member of the Cas squad, but we keep in regular contact with him and when we get nearer the time of the friendlies we’ll be speaking to Cas about him coming over to train with us.”

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