OLDHAM RLFC is delighted to confirm that it has added to what is already a strong pack of forwards for 2021 with the capture of Bradford’s 23-year-old front or back-row forward Liam Kirk.
He is the Roughyeds’ ninth NEW signing in readiness for the resumption of Betfred Championship rugby next year, five of whom are big, strong forwards in Luke Nelmes, Martyn Reilly, Tyler Dupree, Shaun Pick and now Liam Kirk, who stands 6ft 4in and weighs in at 16 and a half stones.
Leeds-lad Kirk, who has been at the Bulls since joining their scholarship programme when he was 16, has signed a one-year deal at Oldham and wishes to make it clear that he is coming here “to achieve something”.
He has worked previously under Matt Diskin at academy level at Odsal and that was significant in his decision to cross the Pennines for his rugby because he believes in ‘Disco’ and in his ability to establish Oldham as a genuine Championship club.
After 82 senior games at Odsal, and still only 23, he’s not coming to make up the numbers.
“I’ve been at Bradford for a few years and I’m looking for a new challenge. I want something different in my life. At the same time, I’m only 23 and I’ve got years in the game ahead of me so I’m looking to achieve something as well.
“We want to be challenging for things. I know Disco well from our time together at Bradford. It’s the right time for me to be moving on and I think Oldham is the right place for me to be.”
Head coach Diskin said he had admired Kirk since he first arrived at Odsal as a teenager.
“He was in my academy team for a number of years and he’s a terrific forward. Until you work with him you don’t appreciate his quality. He’s an experienced, talented forward and I make no secret of the fact that I’ve tried to sign him previously.
“I’m absolutely delighted to get him on board this time and I know he’ll slot easily and comfortably into our squad and do exceptionally well.”
As a boy, Kirk played at Drighlington ARLFC, situated between Leeds and Bradford, and then signed for the Bulls as a scholar before working his way through the Bulls youth development systems to hit the first team in 2016.
He won an under-19s player-of-the-year award (under Diskin) at the age of 17 and the following year he carried off a monthly award as the squad’s outstanding player during March , 2015.
John Bastian, then Bradford’s head of youth, said at the time:
“Liam isn’t just a good player; he’s a quality individual. You can rely on him to set a good example in training as well as on the pitch.”
All but six of his 82 first-team games for the Bulls were played in the Championship season of 2017, the League One campaign of 2018 and the Championship year of 2019 when he figured in 31, 22 and 23 games respectively.
He has played five times against Oldham and has enjoyed four wins, the exception being at Bower Fold in 2017 when Roughyeds won a Championship battle 26-22 thanks to an exhilarating try by centre Kieran Gill near the end.
Liam Kirk images by SWPix