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Tough decisions ahead on Oldham’s five trialists

SCOTT Naylor says he has “tough decisions” to make on the five trialists who have been at the club since the start of pre-season training last November.

Chris Barlow has played in all three warm-up games, scoring a try from left-wing in the Law Cup win at Rochdale.

Ben West, Zak McComb, Joe Martin and local boy Harry Maders figured in the 16-6 defeat in appalling conditions at Barrow and kept their places in the squad that put 52 points past Keighley Cougars at the Vestacare Stadium.

With no more pre-season games scheduled before the first Betfred League 1 fixture at Whitehaven on February 18, it’s ‘make-your-mind-up’ time for Naylor and his coaching staff.

The Roughyeds head coach said the squad that would be in place by mid-February would be the one to carry the club through the season.

Of his five young hopefuls, he added:

“They’ve been brilliant all pre-season. They’ve done all we’ve asked of them. They haven’t put a foot wrong.

“Conditions at Barrow prevented us having a proper look at them but now, after the Keighley game, we’ve got some tough decisions to make. They all did well in different ways and now I’m in a predicament. I never expected to be in a position like this.”

Roughyeds have 21 contracted players and they’ve recently announced a dual-registration link-up with new partners, Salford Red Devils.

Both clubs wasted no time in setting the partnership in motion when Salford’s new signings Gavin Bennion and Levy Nzoungou played in Oldham’s 52-6 demolition job on the outgunned Cougars.

Said Naylor:

“It’s vital to get the size of the squad just right. It’s a balancing act; big enough but not too big. The dual-reg system is there for us, but we’ve got to have enough players of our own as well.

“It’s striking the balance. Every coach would like 27 or 28 players of his own plus dual-reg plus 5 loan players. Every week he would pick his best 17 and everyone would go home, happy with the coach and club whether they were playing or not.

“It doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to be careful to get the balance right, taking into account dual-reg, which has to work for both clubs, and the possibility of loan signings to fill the gaps if you pick up injuries later in the season.

“It’s hard to get it right. We got it wrong massively last season and that was one of the reasons we got relegated. It’s not something we are considering getting wrong ever again.”

Asked about the return to the Vestacare Stadium after two years at Stalybridge, he said:

“It’s nice to be back. This is our home. It’s where we want to play rugby. We like it here. It’s an intimate little stadium; the players like it too, especially when the crowd gets on top of the opposition.

“We’ve now got to make it a fortress again; like it was before we left when other teams didn’t like coming here at all.

“Having said that, Stalybridge was good for us. It was the right place for us to play in the Championship. The facilities were good; the ground was perfect for us; and they looked after us brilliantly. We couldn’t have asked for more.”



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AS lockdown restrictions start to ease, now is the time for everyone connected with Oldham RLFC to do all they can to help with getting income from our Club Cash lottery back to where it was before the pandemic started to bite.

This is vital for the club and its finances which, as you all know, have taken a massive hit in the past 12 months.

Collectors will be returning to door-to-door visits in the next few weeks and we hope people who suspended payments will pick up where they left off as we strive and work hard to get back to where we were before the pandemic caused us to lose 50 per cent of our lottery income.

Many of our regular punters, who would normally pay a collector, have answered our calls for help by finding other ways to pay and to retain their chances of winning prizes.

To those people we are very grateful and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for their loyal and continued support.

The lottery, of course, is potentially one of our biggest fund-raisers and for as little as £1 a week — more if you wish — you can help the club immensely and at the same time have chances to win £1,000, £100, £50, £25 or one of ten consolation prizes of £10.

That’s the present prize structure. There’s every chance it will be increased once we are out of lockdown, door-to-door collections start again and we get back to some sort of normality.

In the meantime you can join, or start up again, by contacting the club on 07904 898177 or by email to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

For more information about the lottery, and for the “great opportunities” provided by our partnership with the National Youth and Community Development Association (NYCDA) go our Club Cash page.

There, you will find all the results and a detailed statement about getting back to normal with the help of our not-for-profit partners.

All proceeds from the partnership will continue to support the club and help us to meet the aims of our Club Cash activities, particularly in its aims and objectives to be an active stakeholder in the local community.

Download Application Form

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