LUKE Nelmes, a fans’ favourite prop, has signed a new one-year deal to spend a second season at Oldham where he made 27 appearances out of a possible 30 in 2018.
The proud Yorkshireman (25) becomes the second player to commit to Roughyeds for 2019, following the lead set by scrum-half Dave Hewitt.
Standing 6ft2in and tipping the scales at 115 kgs, the former Halifax front-rower was Oldham’s heaviest forward in last year’s Betfred League 1 campaign compared with Phil Joy (111 kgs), Adam Neal (102), Danny Bridge (101), Ben Davies (100) and Craig Briscoe (100).
As an impact prop coming off the bench, he didn’t make a single start, but by missing only three games all season he underlined his durability and consistency with a similar record to that of his fellow prop Joy, who made 27 starts compared with Nelmes’s 27 replacements.
Each made more appearances than any other forward, beaten only by half-backs Paul Crook and Hewitt with 28 apiece.
In a season highlighted by a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win at Halifax; two league wins in Cumbria; a run of eight league wins in a row between mid-April and mid-June; and defensive stats that were third best in the division, Nelmes built a reputation as a tough, tackle-busting prop who regularly made the hard yards.
On the debit side, Roughyeds lacked consistency in the second half of the season; lost several close games they should have won; and ended the campaign with four players ruled out of the play-off test at Bradford because of suspension, Nelmes being one of them.
“We didn’t achieve our objective, promotion, but to be fair I was one of about a dozen new players at the club last season and when there are so many new faces it’s bound to take time to gel.
“Despite finishing lower than we should have done, fifth, I’m happy to sign a new one-year deal and to get it done.
“I know where I’ll be playing now in 2019 and I’m already looking forward to pre-season training and to getting fit again after a few weeks off.
“We’ll be back in during the second week in November so it’s not long to wait.
“I really enjoyed my first season at Oldham and to play in 27 games out of 30 was a big thing for me and a lot more rugby than I got in my time at Halifax.
“With the odd exception, most of our ten league defeats were very close and it could easily have been so different for us.
“Hopefully we can put that right next year.”
With Hewitt and Nelmes leading the way, more signings are expected over the course of the next few days.