BRENDAN Sheridan has signed a new contract to stay at Oldham as Matt Diskin’s No 2 — and has explained why Roughyeds are clearly investing in a bigger and stronger set of forwards.
Three of the club’s four new signings to date are designed to stiffen the front row and increase competition for places in the all-important engine room.
Said Sheridan, brother of Castleford Tigers assistant boss Ryan Sheridan: “We needed to strengthen the forwards and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
He was only six games into his first coaching job at professional level — one win, five defeats — when COVID-19 struck, caused a lockdown and ultimately led to the decision to call the final hooter on Championship and League 1 rugby in 2020.
Head coach Diskin, also in his first season at Oldham, is contracted until the end of the 2021 season, but if Sheridan, or ‘Shez’ as he is widely known, was to stick with him next year he needed to sign a new one-year agreement.
Said club chairman Chris Hamilton:
“It was a no-brainer. He has an enthusiasm that rubs off on others, as our players will confirm, and we are all looking forward to having him back at the club next year.
“It was a big opportunity for him last year when he came into the pro game, but his first season was soon curtailed by the pandemic and few suffered more than Brendan because of the virus.
“We are all delighted, obviously, that he is now over it and hopefully coming through it and out the other side.”
Diskin, his immediate boss, spoke in equally glowing terms of the former Dewsbury Celtic head coach and a man steeped in rugby league, particularly at community level in the rugby-mad Heavy Woollen area of West Yorkshire.
In his playing days he was a scrum-half or hooker, part of the spine of any side, for Sheffield Eagles and Batley Bulldogs.
Said Matt, also a Dewsbury man:
“I’ve always thought highly of him. That’s why we took him out of the amateur game last year. He’s a very talented young coach. He’s very astute and very efficient and he adapted well and very easily to the demands of the job at Championship level.
“I enjoyed working with him and I’m looking forward to working with him again in 2021. He’s got his new contract on merit –absolutely no doubt at all about that.”
At the height of the pandemic, ‘Shez’ suffered a serious attack from coronavirus but happily he is well on the mend now and back coaching youngsters during this period when pandemic rules and regulations prevent a Roughyeds return to squad training.
“I can’t wait to get started again at Oldham. I’m massively pleased to get another shot at the job.
“With all that’s been going on this year, we’ve all had time to reflect on just how tough it is in the Championship. By ‘all’ I mean everyone at the club; Chris, Matt, myself, backroom staff, players and fans.
“Next time, we have to hit the ground running. From day one, we’ve got to be match hard and ready to go. Chris, Matt and I have had a few chats about things and one of the main things we concluded when looking at what happened in our first five Championship games early this year was that we needed to add more strength to the forward pack.
“By strengthening the forwards, it will take some pressure off the other lads; provide more competition for places; and generally give us a much better chance of doing well and competing solidly in this division.”