LIAM Bent will have a spring in his stride when he and the other Oldham players return to training tonight (Tuesday, November 14) after their close-season break.
The workaholic second-row forward, then aged 19, played 17 games for Roughyeds last season while on loan from Salford Red Devils, but he has since been released by his full-time employers and has signed a one-year deal to become a fully-fledged Oldham player.
He is now one of our own to the immense satisfaction of the men who made it happen — chairman Chris Hamilton and head coach Scott Naylor.
Said Chris: “Liam was unlucky not to get another contract at Salford, a reflection of the changing situation there. We can improve his game, but he’ll give 100 per cent at all times.
“He works hard and he’s appreciated by team mates for his work ethic and terrific attitude.”
Added Scott: “When Salford released him we were anxious to sign him before anybody else did. He showed in his 17 games for us last season that he was more than capable at Championship level, and he was only 19.
“Extremely professional in everything he does, he’s unbelievable in training and he’s meticulous in things like looking after himself and getting the right diet.
“He’s one of the nicest lads you could ever wish to meet and when you put him on a rugby field you know he’ll give everything he’s got.
“He’s a perfect match for the sort of squad we’re building here.”
Having turned 20 last month, Bent was “gutted” not to get a new deal at Salford, but despite interest from other clubs he had no hesitation in signing for Oldham.
He said: “I definitely benefited from my time at Oldham last season and I loved every minute of it. I was really pleased when they came in for me to make me one of their own.
“They gave me opportunities last season and looked after me while I was there, so I was delighted to return the favour and show a bit of loyalty.
“I can’t wait to get going now. We return to training tonight, but I’ve been doing a bit on my own for a few weeks. That’s me. I can’t do nothing. It’s not in my nature.”
Born and bred in Wigan, he played for St Jude’s as a boy and joined Salford on scholarship at the age of 15. He had two seasons at under-19s level and two years as a full-time member of the first-team squad.
He hopes to start full-time work in January for former Roughyeds assistant coach Lee Spencer on fireplace installations.
Oldham head into their pre-season programme with 19 players signed; 12 forwards and seven backs.
Forwards: Adam Neal, Phil Joy, Danny Langtree, Gareth Owen, Luke Nelmes, Craig Briscoe, Jack Spencer, Ben Davies, Kenny Hughes, Matty Wilkinson, Adam Jones, Liam Bent.
Backs: Paul Crook, Steven Nield, Danny Rasool, Dave Hewitt, Kyran Johnson, Dave Eccleston, Matt Reid.
Added Naylor: “Most of the new boys are young lads with lots to look forward to in the game and from that point of view alone it’s an exciting time for them and also for the coaching staff.
“They are young, hungry lads who are keen to make names for themselves. They’ve got to get used to the way we do things at Oldham and in that respect there are similarities between now and the situation we faced when I arrived at the club five years ago.
“The squad’s not complete yet. We want to sign some more backs, but it’s not massively important that it happens right now.”