DUAL-REG pair Ryan Lannon and Derrell Olpherts, from Salford Red Devils, are included in Oldham’s 19-man squad for the opening Betfred League 1 fixture at Whitehaven tomorrow (3pm kick-off).
Wigan-born Lannon (22), a back-row forward, has played 36 senior games for the Red Devils.
Olpherts (26) is a new signing this season, having previously made his name in rugby league with Hemel Stags and Newcastle Thunder.
Oldham squad: Bent, Bridge, Crook, Eccleston, Hewitt, Holmes, Hughes, Johnson, Jones, Joy, Langtree, Lannon, Neal, Nelmes, Nield, Olpherts, Reid, Spencer, Wilkinson.
Liam Bent, Kenny Hughes and Matt Reid are back in contention after injury.
Said head coach Scott Naylor:
“It’s a strong squad and it’s good to be back with the ‘serious’ stuff. Pre-season is important, but there’s nothing like the real thing; like seeing how you perform in any given game, then fine-tuning what you think you did well and working hard to improve in areas where you might not have done so well.
“You are playing different teams every week and on different grounds every other week. It’s exciting. And especially so when a brand-new season stretches out ahead of you. We’re back in action after a long close season.
“That’s what gives players and coaches the buzz we all get out of this great game.”
Included in the Whitehaven squad is Salford’s young French prop Levy Nzoungou, who has joined the Cumbrians on a month’s loan after playing for Roughyeds on dual-reg in the warm-up match against Keighley Cougars.
Out through injury are winger Danny Green and Stuart Howarth.
Coach Carl Forster is waiting on PNG pair Jessie Joe Parker and Dion Aiye as well as James Mossop, who hasn’t played in any of the friendlies because of a kidney problem.
Parker only arrived in the town on Thursday and Aiye is recovering from pneumonia, so all three will be given as long as possible to prove their fitness.
Marc Shackley (28), an experienced prop who has taken over Whitehaven’s captaincy, said of the Roughyeds:
“They’re a tough side and they’ve had some good pre-season results. They’ve also got dual-reg with Salford.
“They’ll come at us down the middle and with our pitch being heavy I imagine that’s where the game is going to be played.”
Like Oldham, the Cumbrians have targeted promotion so this clash of Betfred’s second favourites to go up automatically (Oldham) and third favourites (Whitehaven) can definitely be billed as League 1 stand-out game on the opening day of a long campaign.