HEAD coach Scott Naylor has welcomed Oldham’s tough start to Betfred League 1 2019.
“To play a few tough, demanding games in a row can be beneficial in terms of hitting consistency at the right level,” said the Roughyeds boss.
“I would rather have that than the other way when you’re up and down and finding that you’re having to pick yourselves up for any particular game.
“It can be a positive to play tough, highly competitive matches each week because consistency at a high level is a good thing to aim for.”
Roughyeds open up with Workington and Whitehaven at the Vestacare Stadium on the first two Sundays of the new campaign.
Then it’s North Wales Crusaders away; London Skolars at home; Newcastle Thunder away; and Hunslet at home.
That’s four of the first six league games at the Vestacare Stadium by Easter ― clearly a period in which Naylor will be looking for a flying start against some of the strongest sides in the division.
“Workington finished above us last season and went on to the Grand Final and Whitehaven have a new coaching team in place so we can expect a different approach to last year.
“Crusaders have re-signed a few of their former lads and Newcastle are the division’s big spenders. Those first two months are going to be very tough, but we’ve got to look at it as a positive.”
Like last year, the team finishing top will go up automatically, but the 2019 play=off for the second promotion spot will involve five teams ― one more than last year.
“It would be nice to finish top, but otherwise we need to finish as high as we possibly can to get the best advantages from the play-off system.
“We need to reproduce a few things we did well last season and improve on a few things we didn’t do well.
“The defence needs to be as good as it was last year, at the very least, but we’ve got to score more tries and more points and get over our opponents’ line more often.
“We knew last year what we needed to do, but we didn’t do it often enough.
“This time we’ve got to put it into practice, and make sure we do.”
Naylor is well pleased at the first two sessions of pre-season training ― last Thursday night at the Vestacare Stadium and on Saturday morning out on the hills above Ramsbottom.
After a 7.30am start, the squad was out for three hours on a tough walk over Holcombe Hill up to the well-known landmark of Peel Tower.
“It was a good way to start our Saturday sessions,” summed up Naylor. “The first night went well, too.
“The new lads integrated easily and it felt we had never been away.
“It was nice to be back and we’re already looking forward to when it all kicks-off.”