GARETH Owen, in his fourth season as club captain, has promised that Oldham RL will respond positively to their poor performance in a 52-12 Coral Challenge Cup defeat at Widnes Vikings last weekend.
Although newly-promoted Roughyeds regard Betfred Championship consolidation as their priority this season there was a feeling around the club, and in the dressing room, that squad members had let themselves down in the Cup.
Bradford Bulls, one place beneath Roughyeds in the Championship table and still seeking their first win, are Sunday’s visitors to Bower Fold and Owen and the players know they need to roll up their sleeves, hit the ground running, and show the desire and commitment that was missing against the Vikings.
New signing Ryan Ince, a winger from Leigh Centurions, trained with his new team mates for the first time on Tuesday night and will be in strong contention for a place in the side this weekend.
“I think you’ll see a different Oldham this week,” said the Roughyeds skipper. “In defence, particularly, we need to up our game and I’m sure we’ll do that against the Bulls.
“We’ve had a long chat about what went wrong at Widnes and we know what to do to put the record straight.”
He’s here on a month’s loan initially, having joined Centurions from Widnes Vikings where he scored 19 tries in 22 appearances last season.
The 23-year-old is no stranger to Championship standards and levels and Roughyeds will be looking to him to make a big impact in March when three of their four league games are at Bower Fold — against Bradford this Sunday, March 1; Dewsbury Rams on Sunday week, March 8; and York City Knights on Sunday, March 29.
Their one other game next month is on Saturday, March 21 at Leigh.
The Challenge Cup exit means they will have a free weekend in the middle of the month — March 15 to be precise –and coach Matt Diskin will no doubt welcome that given that he and his medical team are currently working hard to clear a casualty list that includes James Worthington, Ben Davies, Jode Sheriffe, Ed Smith and Matthew Fletcher, who suffered a damaged shoulder at Widnes last week.
On-loan forward duo Jimmy Beckett and Titus Gwaze didn’t play at Widnes because that would have cup-tied them and their parent clubs didn’t want that and it will be interesting to see whether they are back in the frame to face John Kear’s Bulls.
The importance of picking up league points in home games against opponents from mid-table or below can’t be over-estimated and with three such games in March it’s going to be a crucial month for Diskin and his troops.