OLDHAM are locked in a massive fight for Championship survival after going down to Rochdale at Bower Fold and dropping back into the bottom two.
At the end of the 23-game regular season they have won fewer games — five — than any other side in the division and they are one point behind Swinton Lions and four adrift of Rochdale,
Bradford, still on zero points after starting on minus-12, look a banker bet for the drop, with Oldham and Swinton both sweating on picking up points in the forthcoming Championship Shield, which starts on August 6.
“We face seven cup finals,” said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton, who signed three new players on loan before the transfer doors were bolted last Friday — Luke Hooley (Wakefield Trinity), Jared Simpson (Huddersfield Giants) and Ben Morris (St Helens), whose deal was completed on Friday afternoon. All three will be at Oldham for the rest of the season.
Morris (19), a centre or second-row forward, has played twice for Wales and is included, along with Oldham’s Joe Burke, in the 38-man train-on squad for the World Cup in the Southern Hemisphere this autumn.
He was a member of the unbeaten Saints’ academy championship side in 2016 before scoring two tries for Wales in their World Cup qualifier against Italy.
None of the three new boys played against Rochdale yesterday, but they will link up with Scott Naylor’s men next week. With a blank Sunday coming up, the Oldham players have been given a week off to go away and recharge their batteries.
Roughyeds have also signed eight under-19s players on loan from the Huddersfield Giants academy squad as insurance cover. They will be available after the end of the academy season on August 13.
Added Hamilton: “There were not many players out there , but we are very happy with those we have signed.
“The Shield will be a fresh start. Hopefully we’ll have a couple of injured players back by then, plus the new lads who are coming in. We’ll view it as a mini-season of seven cup finals.”
Oldham will play Dewsbury Rams, Toulouse Olympique and Bradford Bulls at home and Swinton Lions, Rochdale Hornets, Sheffield Eagles and Batley Bulldogs away.
Swinton have Sheffield, Bradford and Oldham at home and Rochdale, Dewsbury, Batley and Toulouse away.
The RFL will announce dates of all Shield games on Wednesday at 8am.