OLDHAM have swooped to sign former York City Knights captain Ed Smith, a back-row forward who played nearly 130 senior games for his home-town club before suffering a serious knee injury two years ago.
He made his first-team debut when he was 17 and he was a regular member of the side by the time he was 20.
In the years that followed he rose to become a highly-respected and valued forward, playing 20 games in 2013, 23 in 2014, 28 in 2015, 26 in 2016 and 18 in 2017 before he smashed a knee and needed major surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament.
He was expected to be out for several months, but he suffered a major setback with the same knee and he hasn’t played since after undergoing a second reconstruction on the same joint.
Several months ago his job in banking took him to Manchester and he now lives in Salford.
Oldham got a tip that he was working hard to regain full fitness and invited him to join the club for rehabilitation and regular physiotherapy under the care of the Roughyeds’ medical team.
He has been looked after by Oldham since last January and has received regular rehab and physio throughout that time.
Two or three weeks ago he started training flat out with the squad. He has come through successfully and has been given the all-clear to play again.
He has signed a deal to the end of the season initially and with a view to a further deal if all goes well.
He started in rugby at York Acorn but was snapped up by the City Knights while still a boy and rose through the ranks to become club captain.
“I’ve been out of the game for two years, but I’m only 26 and I have really missed it. I had spent all my young life in rugby league and life wasn’t the same without it.
“Having moved to the Manchester area, I was delighted to be approached by Oldham, who offered to help me in my rehab and get me back to full fitness.
“I’ve been at the club for several months and I’ve been made really welcome. Oldham have been very good to me.
“For the past week or two I’ve been training with the squad and now I’ve got the all-clear. The lads are a great bunch and I’m really happy to be joining them.
“Two years is a long time out, but I’m really looking forward to playing again. I can’t wait.”
Head coach Scott Naylor said:
“We have been looking after Ed since last January thanks to the work of our medical team.
“He is fully fit now and available to play, which is perfect timing for us.
“He’s a good player, very experienced and he is very keen to play again.
“He has worked extremely hard to regain full fitness and he comes after playing at a good level.
“The next step for him is to regain his confidence and get back into the routine of training and playing regularly, hopefully proving that his injury problems are a thing of the past.”