FIGHTING to save their Championship status with 11 games to go, Oldham RLFC hope a siege mentality on and off the field will help them to inflict Toulouse Olympique’s third defeat in a row at Bower Fold on Sunday (3pm).
To whip up fervour among fans they’re asking them to be loud and proud and they’ve announced that, in response to supporter requests, under-16s accompanied by an adult will get in free.
Scott Naylor says the club’s sticky position — second bottom with a massive injury list and fewer wins than any other side in the division — will itself provide a siege mentality in the dressing room.
He said: “This isn’t about the French. It’s all about us and the backing we’ll get from our fans. We don’t need to be told that Toulouse are in the top four and they’re full-time professionals.
“I’m more interested in their last two results — beaten 36-16 at home by London and rammed 34-22 last Sunday at Dewsbury.
“That’s where our focus has to lie. If Dewsbury can do it, so can we. It’s all about us doing the right things. And, if we get in front, hanging in there and putting the game to bed, something we haven’t been doing.
“I know the performance and the result at Bradford were disappointing, but it was our third game in eight days against full-time pros and we suffered two major injuries in the first few minutes.
“We’ve now got an opportunity, on our own patch and in front of our loyal and very loud fans, to put things right and to show that we’re hell bent on doing it.”
No fewer than EIGHT senior players, all injured, will be sitting in the stand — Richard Lepori, Scott Leatherbarrow, Scott Turner, Jack Spencer, Danny Grimshaw, Phil Joy, Craig Briscoe and club captain Gareth Owen.
Other seniors who didn’t play at Bradford, such as George Tyson, Joe Burke and Luke Adamson, are back in the mix.
Dual-reg players from Huddersfield Giants will also be available, as will the four young players who have been brought in — Kameron Pearce-Paul and Sadiq Adebiyi from London Broncos plus Connor Williams from Salford Red Devils (all on loan) and Matty Wilkinson, who negotiated his release from Salford and is now a fully-fledged Oldham player.
Naylor also has Liam Bent on loan from the Red Devils, but he can play no more than five loan and dual-reg men in total in any one game.
In addition to whoever he has available from Huddersfield, Naylor will select from these:
Clay, Tyson, Chisholm, Hewitt, Gee, Nield, Neal, Langtree, Thompson, Adamson, Bent, Davies, Burke, Hughes, Ward, Pearce-Paul, Adebiyi, Williams, Wilkinson.
Pearce-Paul (20) and Williams (18) will be pushing for spots in the back line, while Adebiyi (20), a prop, and Wilkinson (21), a hooker, will throw their hats into the ring for pack places, although Wilkinson has also been known to play at half-back and Naylor will be seeking a replacement for Leatherbarrow in that important pivotal role.
Toulouse have seriously missed their injured halves Jon Ford and Stan Robin in recent weeks, but they’ve pulled in Louis Jouffret (21) from Catalans Dragons to work his magic in midfield and as a former Warrington and Whitehaven player he is no stranger to the English game.
Toulouse (from): Kheirallah, Marcon, Marguerite, Ader, Maurel, Marion, Jouffret, Boyer, Bouzinac, Canet, Planas, Curran, Bentley, Kriouache, Puech, Hepi, Mika.
Tyla Hepi is the son of former Kiwi international hard man Brad Hepi and Andrew Bentley is the brother of ex-Oldham forward Valu Bentley.