ADAM Neal, anchor man of the Oldham pack, has become the first Roughyeds’ player to re-sign for next season and he promises that, despite relegation, others will follow suit.
“A few of the lads got together and decided we wanted to stick with each other — and stick with Oldham,” revealed prop-forward Neal, who has signed a new one-year deal as Roughyeds look ahead to life in Kingstone Press League 1.
“I’m sure others will sign soon and that fans will see a few familiar faces back at the club in pursuit of our target to get back up to the Championship as quickly as we can.”
Announcing Neal’s new deal, chairman Chris Hamilton said it was typical of him that he should set the lead.
“He always leads from the front, that’s Adam,” added the Roughyeds’ chief. “It was obvious to everyone how much we missed him when he was out last season with a broken jaw.
“It goes without saying that we are delighted to have him back on board again.”
Neal (27) missed eight games after suffering a broken jaw in the 14-12 win against Toulouse Olympique at Bower Fold on July 2. He didn’t play again until the last two games of the season.
He added: “I wasn’t 100 per cent, to be honest, when I got back in but it was more of a mental thing I think than a physical one. Physically, I got through okay.
“It’s a while now before there’s any more contact stuff in pre-season so I’ll be absolutely fine by then and I’m already looking forward to it after being out for so long during the season.
“League 1 is a different kind of challenge to the Championship, but we’ve been there before so we know what to expect.
“Travelling all over the country to Hemel and places like that requires a different mental approach, but the challenge for us is to win some silverware and get back up quickly.”
Consistency personified, Neal has played 80 games over the last three seasons and has missed only 14 — all but six of those while nursing his jaw injury, and then undergoing surgery, last season.
He helped Oldham to promotion with 24 appearances in 2015, followed by 32 games out of a maximum 34 while full time at Sheffield in 2016 and then, on his return to Roughyeds last year, another 24 appearances which included an ever-present 22 until he was injured.