STEVE Nield, who was out for 18 months after wrecking his left knee at Keighley in the summer of 2015, is looking for a ‘fresh start’ after signing a new one-year deal with his home-town club Oldham.
The 26-year-old utility back — mainly full-back or wing — managed eight league appearances in the season just finished, but he’s hoping to make up for lost time in the 2018 League 1 campaign and get considerably more game time than that.
“The knee is good now, touch wood, and the spell I had at Gloucester on loan last season helped to build up my fitness and confidence,” said Nield after putting pen to paper on a deal that will extend his stay with the Roughyeds to more than seven years.
Like Danny Langtree and Phil Joy, who have also signed new deals, ‘Nieldy’ first signed as a teenager to play in the reserves and he had already spent more than two seasons at the club when Scott Naylor arrived to take charge in the autumn of 2012.
His best season was in 2014 when he scored seven tries in 19 appearances, but all that was to change midway through the 2015 promotion campaign when he went down in a harmless-looking tackle at Keighley.
He suffered serious damage which required a full knee reconstruction and he didn’t play again until early 2017 when he made his first tentative steps back into the action in a couple of pre-season friendlies at Swinton and Barrow.
His appearances for Gloucester, followed by his eight games for Roughyeds on his return, have set him up for a good pre-season to come and a challenge for a more regular spot next year.
At the end of his ill-fated 2015 season he had the distinction of receiving a clubman-of-the-year award for his hard work behind the scenes and on match days while he was unable to train or play.
“The lads are good mates and comfortable with each other and that’s why a lot of us want to stick together,” he added.
“As well as playing for the team and the club we play for each other.
“I felt I did okay at the back end of last season, so the plan this year is to have a good pre-season and then push for a place from the start instead of just getting going when the season is nearly over.”
Naylor, himself happy to commit for two more years, said: “Steve is 100 per cent Oldham — loyal to team mates, club and the badge he is proud to wear.
“He worked his way back last season after a full year out through injury, and he did well.
“He knows the club, the lads and all our structures and plans inside out and he’ll be a very important member of the squad in 2018.”
More signing announcements are expected in the next few days to add to Adam Neal, Phil Joy, Gareth Owen, Danny Langtree, Paul Crook and Luke Nelmes.