TWO of Salford’s new signings for 2018, prop-forwards Gavin Bennion and Levy Nzoungou, are included in Oldham’s 21-man squad for tomorrow’s Vestacare Stadium homecoming against Keighley Cougars.
It’s an early start to the Roughyeds’ new partnership with the Red Devils, which was announced a few days ago.
Bennion (23) worked his way through the ranks at Warrington before spending time with Swinton Lions, Featherstone Rovers and Halifax. He was a stalwart of the Rochdale Hornets pack last season before landing a Betfred Super League deal with Salford. He is expected to be a big player for the Red Devils this year.
Nzoungou, who celebrated his 20th birthday last Monday, is a Frenchman who was born in the Congo. He was reared at St Helens where he figured in the Saints’ Academy side that won the championship and went through the season unbeaten. Dave Eccleston, one of Oldham’s new signings, played in the same side.
Despite his youth, Nzoungou has spent time in Australia with Melbourne Storm before returning to France where he played for Toulouse Olympique last season.
Oldham: Barlow, Bennion, Bridge, Briscoe, Crook, Eccleston, Hewitt, Holmes, Joy, Langtree, Maders, Martin, McComb, Neal, Nelmes, Nield, Nzoungou, Rasool, Spencer, West, Wikinson.
Cougars: Aaronson, Barker, Barnes, Dixon, Fairhurst, Gaylor, Hallas, Hardcastle, Hawkyard, Kenga, Law, Leeming, Lumb, Parker, Rawlins, Reed, Ross, Ryder, Senior, Walton.
The referee will be top official James Child, from Wakefield, who refereed last October’s Super League Grand Final between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers.
This third and final pre-season warm-up game for Oldham kicks off at 3pm and sees the Roughyeds’ return to the borough after two years at Stalybridge, during which time the club’s ‘home’ at Limehurst Village has been re-named The Vestacare Stadium and significantly refurbished, both in the clubhouse, which opens at noon, and around the ground generally.
The biggest change was the installation of a top-quality artificial pitch which will be staging its first game of senior rugby league.