COACHING staff continuity and stability is the name of the game at Oldham where pre-season training starts tonight (Thurs) at the Vestacare Stadium.
A squad that includes six newcomers — five of them Yorkshiremen — will be under the command of head coach Scott Naylor, his tried-and-trusted No 2 Pete Carey, coaching trainee Paul Crook and strength and conditioning expert Adam Neal.
The boss is half way through a two-year deal while Carey has penned a new one-year contract ahead of tonight’s return to training so as to complete the 2019 coaching jigsaw and put the last piece in place before the players get down to work.
Crook’s new player-coach role is governed by an agreement that runs for one year with a one-year option.
All the other signings announced so far are on one-year contracts apart from Dave Hewitt and Kyran Johnson, who are committed to the end of the 2020 season.
Neal, who has just retired as a prop, is in charge of strength and conditioning for one year.
Naylor, Carey, Crook and Neal met up on Tuesday to plot and plan their strategy for pre-season and beyond.
It will be Naylor’s seventh campaign as boss, which makes him the longest-serving head coach in the ‘new’ club’s history, while Carey will be by his side for the fourth year in a row.
They’ve also worked together previously at Salford.
The ink on Carey’s new deal had barely dried before the No 2 was looking ahead to 2019 and declaring:
“Hopefully, we can finish off what we started last season.
“I’m looking forward to working with the new lads. It will be a new challenge all round. Let’s hope we can do better than last year.”
“Stability is important. Pete and I have a few years behind us and all four of us were together last year, although Paul (Crook) and Adam (Neal) were in slightly different roles.
“It will be good to be back in harness tonight, but we’ve a lot of hard work ahead of us.”
The squad currently numbers 19, but it’s not finished yet. Naylor, though, is delighted at the progress made so far and with the quality of the players who have re-signed and those who are joining the club for the first time.
He’s aiming for the right blend of youth and experience and with Jamie Greenwood, Liam Bent and Matty Wilkinson at one end of the age scale and Paul Crook, Danny Grimshaw and Richie Hawkyard at the other end it’s probably true to say that this Naylor squad will have more years under its belts than any previous group since he’s been at the club.
Interestingly, of the six new signings announced up to now (expect another one soon) only back-row forward Ben Calland hails from this side of the Pennines, from Wigan to be more precise.
Aaron Jones-Bishop comes from Leeds, Richie Hawkyard from Huddersfield, Danny Grimshaw from just outside Featherstone and Jamie Greenwood and Anthony Bowman from Halifax.
A reminder that the office is open from 10am to 3pm tomorrow (Friday) for the sale of season tickets which are discounted until December 14 and are an ideal Christmas present for any Roughyeds supporter.
You can also buy online or by post to: Oldham RLFC, Vestacare Stadium, Whitebank Road, Limehurst Village, Oldham OL8 3JH (tel: 07904 898 177).