SCOTT Naylor has rubbished suggestions that rugby league matches can be won or lost on issues such as the size and quality of pitches.
As Oldham get ready to step into the unknown when they play Batley Bulldogs at the Manchester Regional Athletics Centre on Sunday (3pm), the Roughyeds boss will tell his players: “It’s just another pitch. Get out there, and get on with it.”
He has also slammed as “a massive myth” any notion that teams playing at home have a huge advantage over their visitors.
Next up for Oldham, after Sunday’s game in the millionaire’s playground of the Etihad Complex, is the Summer Bash derby against Rochdale at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool — a ground that, in an earlier life, used to rock to the sublime skills of Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen.
Then comes Swinton Lions away on June 4 at Sale Rugby Union club where the clubhouse is awash with pictures of Sale and England RU stars of the 1950s.
That’s three crucial Championship games for Naylor’s men away from fortress Bower Fold and at venues that will take them out of their comfort zone.
Said Naylor: “A pitch is a pitch. I don’t get all the talk these days about flat pitches, sloping pitches, home games and away games.
“I played for 15 years at grounds all over the country and we never saw an opponent’s pitch, stadium or club environment as an obstacle to be overcome. These days it’s crept in, and the sooner we get rid of it the better.
“You don’t lose a game because of the pitch; you lose because you didn’t play well.
“We didn’t play well at Batley in March or in London last time out, but we’ve got three big games coming up now and we need to correct the small things we did wrong in London and go into the Batley match full of confidence and self-belief.
“They’ve only won once since they beat us and they’re certainly not the side that finished in the top four last year.”
The only two Oldham players ruled out by injury are Scott Turner and long-term victim Craig Briscoe.
That gives Naylor 21 players to choose from, including prop Phil Joy for the first time since he dislocated a shoulder against London Broncos in February.
Backs: Jamel Chisholm, Adam Clay, Tuoyo Egodo, Kieran Gill, Danny Grimshaw, David Hewitt, Scott Leatherbarrow, Richard Lepori, George Tyson.
Pack: Liam Bent, Joe Burke, Ben Davies, Sammy Gee, Kenny Hughes, Phil Joy, Danny Langtree, Adam Neal, Gareth Owen, Jack Spencer, Liam Thompson, Michael Ward.