OLDHAM expect to face one of their toughest games of the season at Newcastle Thunder on Sunday.
They were beaten 24-18 at Kingston Park last season — a game in which Oldham’s current loanee half-back Adam Brook partnered French international Remy Marginet in Thunder’s halves — after leading 18-6 with quarter of an hour left.
It was Brook’s long kick to the corner from midfield which laid on the try for full-back Theerapol Ritson to spark the avalanche that produced three converted tries for Thunder in the last 13 minutes.
Ritson has since left for Barrow, but Thunder’s other match-winners on that occasion, ex-Oldham winger Mo Agoro and French half-back Marginet, are still there.
They have since signed several new players, including:
Jared Blanke, an Aussie second-row forward from Lezignan in France’s Elite League 1.
Keal Carlile, a hugely experienced hooker from Featherstone Rovers.
Jy-Mel Coleman, brother of London Skolars head coach Jermaine Coleman and a half-back who helped Jamaica to qualify for the 2021 World Cup alongside Oldham’s Aaron Jones-Bishop.
Carne Doyle-Manga, New Zealand-born prop who has played club rugby in Australia and represented New Zealand Maori and the Cook Islands.
Kieran Gill, a young centre who needs no introduction to Oldham fans, having had two spells on loan with Roughyeds from Castleford Tigers. He is on season-long loan at Thunder.
Misi Taulapapa, a Samoan international centre from Featherstone Rovers. He had three seasons with NZ Warriors, then spells with Cronulla Sharks, Sheffield Eagles and Featherstone.
After a couple of surprise losses in early-season, they parted company with long-serving club stalwart Jason Payne, put his No 2 in temporary charge, and brought in ex-Widnes Vikings boss Denis Betts as director of rugby.
They have followed that up only this week by naming Toronto Wolfpack No 2 Simon Finnigan as new head coach to work side by side with Betts in their puah for promotion from Betfred League 1.
They currently lie in fifth place with two wins from five games and two points behind second-placed Roughyeds who are in second spot behind Hunslet with three wins from four.
“They certainly don’t do things by halves,” commented Roughyeds boss Scott Naylor.
“They’ve spent big money and they make no secret of their intention to get into the Championship and maybe even further.
“They’ve got Betts to steer the ship and Finnigan to do the coaching. Add to that the players they’ve signed and they’ve clearly put their cards on the table and made a statement of intent.
“They’ve got new money, new players, new men in charge; they’re like a new club, not the Newcastle of the past few seasons.
“We expect one of the toughest games of the year and that’s what we’re preparing for.”
He said everyone should be available apart from Brook (broken wrist), Danny Grimshaw (groin) and Danny Bridge, whose suspensions runs to the end of this month.
The Roughyeds office inside the Vestacare Stadium will be open for the sale of heavily discounted merchandise between 10am and 3pm today (Friday), but fans should note that there has been a run on stock this week and that the club is currently out of extra-large polo shirts and medium-sized home and away replicas.