OLDHAM have followed up the capture of centre Zach McComb with the signing of his ex-Siddal wing partner Ben West on a one-year contract.
The 21-year-old West, who has been training with Roughyeds since last November, played as a trialist in pre-season games against Barrow Raiders and Keighley Cougars.
Unlike McComb, he has played all his rugby at Siddal — most of it on the left wing outside the former Huddersfied Giants youngster, whose signing was announced earlier.
Roughyeds’ head coach Scott Naylor has high hopes for both players, suggesting they could cope with a higher standard of rugby if they continue to progress as they have done since starting training.
West, who’s been at Siddal since he was a boy, was disappointed to miss out on selection when they beat Leigh Miners in the 2016 National Conference premier division grand final.
“That made me all the more determined to have a better year in 2017 and I think I achieved that,” said West, who picked up several club awards in a season in which Siddal finished top of the premier division, but lost to Thatto Heath in the grand final.
Like his centre partner, he pinpointed the Challenge Cup tie against Toronto Wolfpack as one of the highlights of the year.
At the end of last season he was keen to accept Oldham’s invitation to prove himself in a professional environment.
“It was a good decision too because it’s been a great experience. The other boys were great with us from the start. It’s a very professional set-up at Oldham and I’m really enjoying my time there.
“I’m buzzing and I can’t wait to get started. It’s a step-up for me, but I’m loving the challenge. I hope to get a few games and go from there.”
Speaking for the first time about the two Siddall signings, Naylor said:
“We had a few trialists on board and we had to make some difficult decisions. We decided Zach and Ben were what we were looking for.
“Zach can bring a lot to us. He’s quick, good off both feet, with good skills and a great attitude. He’s hungry for it too.
“Both of them could progress to a higher level if they continue to work hard.
“Of all five trialists, Ben has been the big surprise package. He’s gone better and better while he’s been with us. He’s a quiet lad, but he plays and trains hard and he’s done everything we’ve asked of him.
“Against Keighley he was one of the best players on the field, deceptively strong and with a brilliant work ethic.”
Naylor also spoke highly about two trialists who won’t be offered terms — winger Chris Barlow, who scored a try in the Law Cup win at Rochdale and local lad Harry Maders.
In thanking both players personally for all they had contributed over the last three months, he said:
“We’ve had a tough pre-season and we’ve played some tough games, especially up at Barrow. Throughout it all, Chris and Harry were a credit to themselves and handled it very well indeed.
“However, it wouldn’t have been fair to either of them to keep them on. The squad would have been too big in terms of keeping everybody happy and giving them game time.
“They’re extremely disappointed with our decisions, but the best way forward for both of them in the long run is to be somewhere where they can be playing week in and week out and hopefully that will be in this division.”
OLDHAM have confirmed that their third-round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie against Featherstone Lions will take place at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday, February 25, kick-off 3pm.