MATT Reid, who starred at left-centre with two tries in Oldham’s hugely-encouraging 28-24 Law Cup win at Rochdale, played most of his rugby at Coventry Bears last season in the forwards.
Coventry captain and a 24-game ever-present in 2017, the 25-year-old Warrington-based Reid made nine appearances at centre against 15 in the back-three of the pack — ten in the second-row and five at loose-forward.
Of his 15 League 1 appearances only three were in the backs and it wasn’t until the late-season League 1 Shield games that he strung together half-a-dozen consecutive games at centre.
From the moment on November 1 that they announced he was their sixth new signing, however, Roughyeds have had him lined up for a centre spot; and judging by his man-of-the-match Law Cup debut at the Crown Oil Arena and his stunning second try, head coach Scott Naylor was spot-on with his early assessment.
On the day Oldham signed the former North Wales Crusaders’ man, Naylor said of Reid: “He comes to us highly recommended. I got a phone call singing his praises and after that we spoke to a few people and did our homework.
“He played in a few positions at Coventry but we see him primarily as a centre which is his favourite position anyway.
“There are not a lot of centres around these days so it’s good to come across a lad who is keen to learn as much about centre play as he can.
“Coming to Oldham will be a step-up for him. We’ll teach him everything we possibly can and strive to make him a quality lad.”
The new boy couldn’t have a better mentor than Naylor, once a centre himself in a star-spangled Bradford Bulls side that won every honour in the domestic game. He scored 60 tries in 159 Super League appearances for Salford and (mainly) Bradford between 1997 and 2004; played in several Challenge Cup finals and Super League Grand Finals; and also won England honours.
Physicality was an essential ingredient of Naylor’s game and in Reid he has a centre who is the tallest member of the squad at nearly 6ft6in and the third heaviest at 16stone, surpassed on the scales only by big props Phil Joy and Luke Nelmes.
Many Oldham fans who were at the Rochdale game probably didn’t realise they had seen Reid play before.
He was Kevin Penny’s centre in a North Wales Crusaders side that won 38-28 in a League 1 game at Whitebank in June, 2015 —- Oldham’s only home league defeat in that promotion season.
Also on duty for the Welsh side that day were former Roughyeds players Alex Thompson, Jamie Dallimore and Mark Hobson and two who were later to become Oldham forwards in Joe Burke and Gary Middlehurst.
Speaking after picking up the Oldham RL Heritage Trophy as Law Cup man of the match, Reid said: “It was a good win, now roll on Barrow, another side who will be in the Championship this year.”
Asked about his tries, he said: “For the first one I found myself in a little bit of space and decided to go for the line. It was a good job I have long arms because I had to stretch to put the ball down.
“For the second Danny Bridge put me in the clear with a superb pass. I had Chris Barlow outside me and only the full-back to beat but as I got near him I could see he was starting to move
across, so I shaped to pass and then went.
“I was relieved it came off for me otherwise I might have been in a spot of bother (for not using his winger).”
Reared by Warrington amateurs Latchord Albion, he had a spell with Lymm RU Club before returning to Latchford and then signing pro for North Wales. He had two years there and then another two seasons at Coventry.
He said: “Having travelled regularly to Coventry for the past two years, Oldham (from Warrington) seems just down the road, although driving at tea time on the motorway to Oldham for training on Tuesdays and Thursdays is no picnic either.”
Outside of rugby league, Reid is a PE teacher at a Warrington secondary school.