OLDHAM will be aiming to be party poopers at Kingston Park, Newcastle on Sunday (3pm) when Thunder celebrate their 20th birthday with new head coach Simon Finnigan in charge for the first time.
The former assistant at Toronto Wolfpack joins ambitious Thunder as Jason Payne’s successor only three weeks after the North-East club named Denis Betts as director of rugby.
Finnigan (37) was coached by Betts at Widnes Vikings when he was a player.
Betts is quoted about the appointment on Thunder’s website. He said:
“Simon is an ideal fit for Thunder both in terms of where we are at and the club’s ambitions.
“He has earned a lot of credibility in his time at Toronto. He wanted to become a head coach and it was an opportunity we could give him in an environment with ambitions which match his own.”
Finnigan will take his first training sessions at Newcastle this week and then take charge on Sunday, seeking to get his first job as a head coach off to a flying start.
After playing for Widnes, Salford, Bradford, Huddersfield and Leigh, he cut his teeth in coaching at Leigh Sports Village and then followed Paul Rowley across the Atlantic in 2017 to be part of the Wolfpack’s first coaching panel.
He has been an integral part of Wolfpack’s success ever since, working first under Rowley and, more recently, alongside Brian McDermott.
Anthony Bowman and Aaron Jones-Bishop will be free from suspension to return to Oldham’s side, as will on-loan Lee Kershaw who didn’t play against Widnes Vikings because that would have ruled him out of playing for his parent club Wakefield Trinity if needed later in the competition.
On the injury front the medical team will be checking at training tonight on Ben Davies, Matty Wilkinson, Danny Grimshaw, Harry Maders and Titus Gwaze.
Newcastle’s last two games have both resulted in narrow defeats at Workington Town, 32-30 in Betfred League 1 and 21-20 in the Coral Challenge Cup when a late drop goal by Jamie Doran proved decisive.
Mo Agoro and on-loan Kieran Gill, who have both played for Roughyeds in the past, were part of Thunder’s back division.