OLDHAM RL captain Gareth Owen has warned that every player in the squad will be looking over his shoulder this season because of intense competition for places.
The side that clobbered Sheffield Eagles 26-10 at Bower Fold in the first Championship game of the season didn’t include George Tyson, Nathan Chappell, Liam Thompson, Jamel Chisholm, Ben Davies, Joe Burke or Craig Briscoe, although Briscoe will miss most of the season after major knee surgery.
Said Owen: “Competition is going to be tougher than it’s ever been in my time at the club.
“Every player will have to perform well every week to keep his place in the side.”
Keiran Gill and Tuoyo Egodo, both on long-term loan from Castleford Tigers, made their first appearances of the season against Sheffield, while Huddersfield Giants duo Mikey Wood and Tyler Dickinson played on dual registration.
Oldham boss Scott Naylor and Giants’ Aussie coach Rick Stone are more than comfortable with the dual-registration system, so that will also add to the fight for places.
Owen spent much of the Sheffield game on the bench while recovering from an early knock, but he was back on the field near the end of the game and he said later that he was fine.
Sammy Gee left the field late in the second half with a knock to the shoulder so he will be assessed at training tomorrow.
Danny Grimshaw and two-try Danny Langtree will also be checked out, given that it was their first game back after injury.
Grimshaw missed all the pre-season games and Langtree played only the first two minutes of the Swinton game on January 8 before he damaged a hamstring.
Naylor, meanwhile, has lauded his side, and especially his forwards, for the way they first stood up to, and then got on top of, a massive Eagles pack.
He said: “Adam Neal, a prop, did 63 minutes. It was unbelievable. There isn’t another prop like him in this division.
“Jack Spencer also had a big game, as well as Michael Ward and Phil Joy.
“Mikey Wood (dual-reg) has made massive strides since he first played for us two years ago.
“We looked like a real Championship side and we had a lot of players watching in the stand.”