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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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Club Cash

SINCE Covid-19 caused us to temporarily abandon door-to-door CLUB CASH lottery collections last Spring there’s never been a better time to come on board and help Roughyeds to get through these hugely challenging times.

Why? The £500-a-week rollover jackpot is back — not only that there are now TWO £50 prizes and TWO £25 prizes in addition to the first prize of £1,000, a second prize of £100 and ten consolation prizes of £10.

But the return of the jackpot is the big lottery news. It’s back this week and it’s been won first time out, so next week’s jackpot is again £500 but if nobody touches lucky it will go up to £1,000 the following week and increase by £500 a week, if not won, to a maximum of £10,000.

We have seriously missed the regular income from collections on the doorstep, but we cannot thank too much those supporters who have got behind the club in these unprecedented times of hardship by keeping their Club Cash memberships going or, indeed, by joining for the first time, knowing that for £1 a week they can help the club to combat Covid and prepare with confidence for the challenges of Betfred Championship rugby in 2021.

You can send a cheque to cover a set number of weeks; take out a bank standing order — our preferred option; complete a bank transfer; or pay for several weeks up front by credit or debit card.

You can download a standing order form by clicking on the link at the end of this news release and following the instructions or you can contact our Club Cash administrator John McAndrew (tel: 07980 129541; email: mcandrewj@aol.com) or speak to the club direct on 07904 898177 or email to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The easiest way, though, is to download a standing order form below. The latest prize updates are shown on the form as follows (all for £1): £1,000, £100, £50 (2), £25 (2), a number of £10 consolation prizes and the £500-a-week rollover jackpot.

Best of luck!

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