Big kick-off -- Owen

IN his first appearance, as captain, at a KP Championship season launch, Gareth Owen said there was a lot of improvement to come from a squad that had under-performed in the three pre-season games.

He said: “We know we weren’t at our best against Swinton, Barrow and Rochdale, but if we do turn up and play as well as we can — and if we stick to the game plan — we won’t be far off.

“We usually play well at Bower Fold and we have a good opportunity to start the season on a high in front of our own fans.

“We can’t carry on playing like we’ve done so far because everyone knows it isn’t good enough.

“Basically, we’ve been making too many individual errors — that isn’t to point the finger at any one individual, but to point out that, as a team, we need to respect our possession and complete our sets.

“Against Rochdale we made seven mistakes early on and from there we were out-muscled and out-enthused. They got on top and we couldn’t get it back.

“But that’s what warm-up games are for. And if we shape well and beat Sheffield, the friendlies will be forgotten.

“We’ll take each game as it comes. We are not going to win every game, are we, but we need to be as consistent as we can possibly be and aim to be in every game after 70 minutes.

“It’s going to be tough, but we are very fit and that could count if we are still in a game with ten minutes to go.

“On a personal note I’m the fittest I’ve been for years and I think everyone else is saying the same.

“On the back of that I’m hoping to get more minutes on the field, but competition for places will be tougher than it’s ever been in my time at the club.

“Every player will have to perform well every week if he is to keep his place in the side, starting with Sheffield.

“I spent half a season over there on loan from Salford before I first arrived at Whitebank. I’ve still got a few mates there so it’s going to be a very interesting opener to the season.”

Interestingly, five specialist rugby league journalists from League Express Publications and totalrl.com have given their thoughts on how the Championship will work out and four of them have tipped Oldham to finish 10th or higher.

Aaron Bower (League Express) gave Oldham 11th and Dewsbury 12th, both relegated.

Matthew Shaw (Total RL editor) had Oldham 10th, Bradford 11th, Dewsbury 12th.

Martyn Sadler (League Express editor): Oldham 9th, Bradford 11th, Dewsbury 12th.

Lorraine Marsden (League Express assistant editor): Oldham 8th, Dewsbury 11th, Sheffield 12th.

Ash Hope (Rugby League World sub-editor): Oldham 8th, Dewsbury 11th, Rochdale Hornets 12th.



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