LIAM Thompson will celebrate his 100th game for Oldham at Bower Fold on Sunday, having starred last time out with 80 minutes of sheer graft in a man-of-the-match performance against Toulouse Olympique.
With more than 40 big hits, it was back-to-form tackling-machine “Thompy’s” best show of the year . . . and he put it down to the boss’s quiet word in his ear.
“He was honest with me; he told me I needed to lose a bit of weight in order to get back to my best,” said 25-year-old Thompson, of the night he asked Scott Naylor why he wasn’t getting in the side as often as he did last year.
“Scott is always straight. He knew I had purposely put on a few pounds — about three-quarters of a stone which I thought would help me in contact and collision — but he told me to shed it as quickly as possible to get back to my last year’s weight.
“The extra pounds needed more carrying about and they were affecting my game. I feel a lot fitter again and I certainly felt in fine fettle last Sunday.”
When third-placed Featherstone Rovers come to Stalybridge this Sunday, needing one more win to clinch a place in the Middle 8s, Thompson will join the Roughyeds’ ton-up club alongside the likes of current squad members Phil Joy, Danny Langtree, Kenny Hughes and Michael Ward.
One of Naylor’s new signings when he arrived at the club in the autumn of 2012, Thompson came from Widnes Vikings and made his debut in a 36-0 Championship One win at Gloucester in April, 2013.
His first two seasons were marred by injury, but with 27 appearances in the promotion year of 2015 and a 30-match, player-of-the-year offering in the club’s first season at Championship level he has done as much as anybody to assist Oldham’s steady climb under Naylor’s command.
He added: “In my head, the time has flown by. But my body tells me I’ve been around a bit. After a match I’m sore for longer than I was when I was 21 and I take longer to recover from a bump.
“But I love the game and I love putting my body on the line for Oldham as much as I ever did.
“We’ve had a tough two months but we’ve stuck together. We’ve done some honest talking with each other and we’ve changed a few things which seem to be working.
“We’ll take a lot of confidence from the win against Toulouse. We’ve ten games left, starting with Featherstone on Sunday, and none of them will be easy.
“But I think we’ve turned the corner and we’ll be going out to try to reward our wonderful fans with another good performance against a team in the top four.”