LIVEWIRE hooker Matty Wilkinson, whom coach Scott Naylor believes could have a big future in the game, has committed to Roughyeds for another year.
He is the latest of several Oldham players to resist approaches from other clubs in favour of signing a new one-year deal at the Vestacare Stadium.
“Why would I want to go anywhere else ? Oldham is a good club with a great set of lads and coaches in whom I have total respect and from whom I’m learning all the time,”
said 22-year-old Wilkinson, a Leigh lad who rose through the Salford Red Devils youth system.
He was at Leigh Miners as a boy, then had a brief courtship with the reserves at Leigh Centurions before joining Salford’s academy and eventually reaching the first-team squad.
He went out on loan to North Wales Crusaders in 2016 and then to Halifax on dual registration in the early part of 2017.
When Roughyeds discovered later that season that he was available they nipped in quickly to make him a fully-fledged Oldham player.
He scored two tries in nine appearances in 2017, followed by nine tries in 25 games last season, mainly coming off the bench with dummy-half duties shared by club captain Gareth Owen, Kenny Hughes, who has moved to North Wales Crusaders, and Wilkinson.
He was the ‘baby’ of the hooking trio and the third youngest member of last year’s squad behind Liam Bent and Adam Jones.
Of his fellow forwards only Danny Langtree (21) and Danny Bridge (10) scored more tries than Wilkinson’s nine.
Said head coach Naylor:
“I don’t think people realise how young he is. He’s still learning the game but he has become an integral part of the team and very important to us.
“He played a lot of rugby for us last season and I thought he was brilliant.
“We used him mainly off the bench because of his speed and his ability to shake up the ruck and strike out of dummy half.
“He gives 100 per cent all the time and if he continues to develop at the rate he has done in the past year I can see him taking big strides up the ladder in the not-too-distant future.”
Wilkinson, sponsored last season by John and Lynda McAndrew, said:
“As long as Oldham wanted to keep me, I wasn’t going anywhere. It’s great to be working with Nobby (Naylor) and with Pete Carey.
“We lost too many tight games narrowly last season and that’s a lesson we have to learn. We have to find a way to win in games that could go either way.
“Next season we’ll have to be on our game every single week and we’ll have to up our game too to make up for losing ‘Langers’ (Danny Langtree).
“He’s a great lad who deserves his chance in Super League but we’ve a lot to do to compensate for losing him.”
Like most of the players who were in last season’s squad, including Langtree, Wilkinson will be at Friday’s Awards Night at the Vestacare Stadium.
Tickets priced £12.50, including hot supper, can be bought online via the Roughyeds online store or by cash or cheque at the club’s office inside the ground between 10am and 3pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Season tickets are also available. For telephone inquiries ring Anne Kearns on 07811 988 426.