OLDHAM have signed a young second-rower who will have the unenviable task of replacing Hull FC-bound Danny Langtree.
Ben Calland (22) has signed a one-year agreement, thus linking up with good friends Liam Bent and Matty Wilkinson, with whom he played in a Salford Red Devils academy side which Bent captained.
“Benty and I are big mates and I know Matty well too,” said Calland, younger brother of Matt, well known locally for his connections with Mayfield and Hopwood Hall and previously with Rochdale Hornets and St Anne’s, while better known further afield as a former centre with Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers.
As a much younger sibling it was perhaps no surprise that Ben surrendered a promising future in judo to follow big brother into rugby league.
He started as a small boy with Haydock Warriors and then Blackbrook, the St Helens community club that has a phenomenal reputation for producing top-line professionals, before graduating to scholarship schemes at Saints and Wigan and then signing for Salford.
He had two years at Salford, having signed when he was 18, and then had a season in Australia playing for Corrimal Cougars, a Country club based in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.
It was while he was Down Under that the Aussies switched him from centre to second-row — the spot he now prefers and the spot where Scott Naylor plans to use him.
“He came back from Australia and signed for Newcastle Thunder but for whatever reason things didn’t work out for him up there.
“As a Wigan lad he knows the game inside out. He’s a big lad too. He sees his move to us as a fresh start and I’m looking forward to working with him. He is really keen to come to us.
“He can play centre or second-row but I see him as a second-row and I’ll be looking to him to fill the gap left by Danny Langtree’s departure.”
Calland, who’s hoping to qualify soon as a primary school PE teacher, stands 6ft2in tall and weighs in at 102 kg, heavier than every Oldham forward last season apart from props Phil Joy (111kg) and Luke Nelmes (115 kg).
“I’m excited by the prospect of being coached by Scott, who has been to the top, done it all himself and knows what it’s all about.
“As a centre, he’ll be very intricate and I like that; I like playing chess-board rugby where a lot of thinking goes into it.”
Awards Night and Season Tickets
A REMINDER that Anne Kearns (07811 988 426) will be in the Roughyeds office at the Vestacare Stadium on Wednesday and Friday this week between 10am and 3pm to sell season tickets and Awards Night tickets, priced at £12.50.
The Awards Night, this Friday starting at 7pm, promises to be a great occasion in which players and fans can meet together and enjoy a relaxed out-of-season event .