CHRIS Hamilton and Scott Naylor are wondering what they’ve done to deserve the cruel luck that has decimated the Roughyeds’ squad in recent weeks.
All clubs have injuries, but to have ELEVEN senior men out of action suggests chairman and coach have been walking under ladders together or accidentally smashing dressing room mirrors.
Selection of the side to play Sheffield at Wakefield on Sunday (3pm) will be easy . . . anyone who reports fit will be in the 17 and there won’t be anybody left over.
“I’ve never known anything like this in all my years in the game,” laments coach Naylor, while club chairman Hamilton adds: “It does make you think we’ve done something terribly wrong.”
At best it will be a “bare bones” side that travels to the Beaumont Legal Stadium (Belle Vue) in Wakefield, but that doesn’t mean it will be Mission Impossible.
Senior players Adam Clay, former Sheffield man George Tyson, Sammy Gee, Luke Adamson, Ben Davies, Joe Burke, Kenny Hughes and Michael Ward will have to lead from the front and promote a siege mentality that will bring out the best in the rest, as it did in the 14-12 defeat of Toulouse at Bower Fold.
It wasn’t enough to see off Featherstone, but inconsistent Sheffield — good one game, awful the next — are not in the same street as a Rovers side that oozes quality.
Tyson, a full-time pro at Sheffield last year, will want to go back and have a cracker and, despite his niggling injuries, he’s in the form to do it.
Huddersfield’s dual-reg players will also be key. Often watched by Giants boss Rick Stone, a regular visitor to Bower Fold, they usually contribute significantly, as did Sam Wood at stand-off against Toulouse and Featherstone; Dan Smith at prop against Featherstone; Nathan Mason at prop against Rovers.
Of the new boys to come in recently, fans are particularly enjoying the performances of youngsters Matty Wilkinson at hooker and Sadiq Adebiyi at prop.
Out in the backs, Kameron Pearce-Paul and Connor Williams haven’t had as much chance to shine but Adebiyi and Wilkinson have quickly become fans’ favourites. Pearce-Paul isn’t playing in this one because of a sternum injury.
“It’s getting tougher with every game, but I’m enjoying it and learning fast,” said London-born Adebiyi, who was flattened by a high shot against Featherstone but got up to score his first try in Oldham colours.
Sheffield have lost four of the last five, beating Swinton 42-34, but leaking points in defeats by London (52-16), Hull KR (40-18), Batley (70-12) and Halifax (54-0).
They have a good record against Swinton and Rochdale — teams of similar standard to Oldham — but despite winning nine times to lie seventh, they have the worst defensive record in the division, conceding 35 points a game on average.
In two seasons at this level, Oldham have won three of four meetings with Mark Aston’s men — a league double last year and a 26-10 win at Bower Fold on the opening day of this season.
Unpredictable as ever, Eagles smashed Roughyeds 54-24 at Bower Fold last year in the Shield.
With 18 league points they look to have secured their Championship status next year, but Aston doesn’t think so.
He is targeting wins against Oldham and Dewsbury in their last two regular-season games “to make absolutely sure” and then aiming to go one better than last year when they reached the Shield final before losing at Bradford Bulls.