Our latest player focus is on Ben Calland.
In Ben’s case, rugby league runs in the family and he was thrust into the game at the age of six, following in the footsteps of his older brother Matt, the former Bradford Bulls and Rochdale Hornets player and currently head coach at Hornets.
Ben started as a boy with Haydock Warriors and then Blackbrook, the St Helens community club that has a reputation for producing top-line professionals, before graduating to scholarship schemes at Saints and Wigan and then signing for Salford.
Having signed when he was 18, he had two years with the Red Devils, where he played alongside Liam Bent and Matty Wilkinson.
He then had a season in Australia, playing for Corrimal Cougars, a Country club based in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.
On his return to the UK, he played for Newcastle Thunder but he eventually came to Oldham as it was closer to home and a lot more convenient.
Also, it gave him the opportunity to link up again with Bent and Wilkinson.
Ben’s hero in the rugby world is the former Bradford winger and talented dual-code star Lesley Vainikolo. Ben grew up as a Bradford supporter and, as he says: “Vainikolo was probably the most popular figure in that early-to mid-2000s team.”
In the wider sporting world, boxing legend Muhammad Ali was always a hero to Ben, who has watched all his fights.
In his spare time he listens to Joe Rogan podcasts and also does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to keep himself busy in the off season.
Ben would describe himself as quiet within the team as he ‘prefers to sit and laugh rather than crack the jokes’. He also says he is laid-back and balding. Of the Mr Man series he would be Mr Lazy.
Asked who was his toughest opponent, Ben said: “Jake Connor has gone on to do the best for himself. He is quality.”
If required to take a team mate with him on a desert island he would opt for Matty Wilkinson. He’s known him since under-19s at Salford and “he’s so laid back he wouldn’t panic.”
Thoughts on the season so far?
‘Very inconsistent. We’ve shown glimpses of the quality we possess but there have not been many 80-minute performances. Skolars at home was probably as good as it’s been.
With the players we have, we’re capable of much more.
“It remains to be seen where we’ll finish, obviously dependant on others. All we can do is keep training hard and put together good performances.”