WHILE lots of rugby league players are sweating right now — literally in this pandemic heat wave — on getting new contracts for 2021 and beyond, two members of Oldham’s squad in this ill-fated year of the virus can take a deep breath, relax and leave all the contractual to-ing and fro-ing to others.
Stand-off Lewis Charnock and young play-anywhere forward Matthew Fletcher are already contracted to Roughyeds for another year, to November 30, 2021 to be precise, so they can reflect on Roughyeds’ tough start to the 2020 Betfred Championship campaign and look ahead with confidence to a more successful resumption in 2021.
To date, they are joined on the 2021 roster by Danny Langtree and new-boy Tyler Dupree, a young prop from Leeds Rhinos. Clearly, there will be a lot more white smoke in the days and weeks ahead, continuing at 7pm tomorrow (Friday) evening with news of another big capture.
Charnock and Fletcher, to name but two, will be chomping at the bit to know how the new squad is starting to shape-up and how soon it will be before the players can meet up again for group training in preparation for the 2021 campaign.
“We haven’t been given any dates yet,” said Charnock, “but I can’t wait to get back into the groove. Lockdown was a bit of a novelty in the first week or two, but as time went on it was just a bore. It was really hard to adjust to it.”
An electrician by trade, Charnock (25) can’t wait to get the ball in his hands again, even in training.
“I’ve been working right through it so I’m a lot luckier than the majority of people,” he added, “but even so it’s been a long time between matches. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will hear something soon about training again,”
One of the youngest players at the club, 20-year-old Fletcher has also been lucky in terms of continuing with his day job during the pandemic. He works at care centres in Limehurst Village and Denton, helping people who have learning difficulties and autism.
He normally operates in a full-time capacity at Denton and only casually in Limehurst Village, but during the pandemic he’s been at Limehurst every day.
“I love the job and I’ve been doing it since I was 17,” he added. “It’s very rewarding. I have an elder brother Scott (27) who has autism, so it’s something I’ve grown up with. That helps me in my job.
“As for rugby, I was training really hard on my own and working particularly hard to get my shoulder right. I took a knock on it at Widnes, if you remember.
“I’ve built my own gym at home, which is on the hills above Lees, and I was doing a lot of work in there but I have to admit that I lost a bit of motivation when it was announced that this season would be classed as null and void and we wouldn’t be playing again until next year.
“I can’t wait to start training again with everyone else. There’s no substitute for that. I signed for the club late and I’m the first to admit I didn’t have an amazing start and then I did my shoulder which also set me back.
“In short, I know I can do a lot better than anything I’ve done so far. I’ve got a point to prove.”