POPULAR Kyran Johnson, whose affinity with Oldham fans is widely and publicly reciprocated, has signed a new one-year deal to take to 25 the number of players now committed to Matt Diskin’s new-look Roughyeds squad for the 2021 Betfred Championship campaign.
Unlike this aborted and Covid-ruined 2020 season, when most teams had got their squads together by the time Oldham clinched promotion to tier two, the Oldham boss has had the time and the opportunity to put his own stamp on the 2021 squad and he is very happy at how it is taking shape.
“We’ve got quality, depth and competition across the board. I’m really happy. And I’m certainly a lot more confident about our prospects than I was this time last year. Things are going well.
“The boys are itching to get back in for training. This latest lockdown has come as another setback but, fingers crossed, we’re hoping to start again in December.”
Of Johnson’s new deal, he added:
“Kyran is a really good lad. He’s got a great attitude and a great work ethic. He didn’t enjoy the best of starts this year, but he hadn’t fully recovered from an ankle injury he sustained in the Promotion Final at the end of the 2019 season and, because we had other players injured, he was also asked to play out of position at times.
“Like everyone else in 2021 he’ll be competing for a spot, but knowing him as I do, I’m sure he’ll be better prepared this time, both physically and mentally.”
The 26-year-old Johnson, a proud Yorkshireman who lives in Featherstone, has confirmed that he is now fully fit from the ankle injury he sustained when his left-wing break in the 2019 Promotion Final against Newcastle set up the move in which Dave Hewitt and Paul Crook found the space for Jimmy Beckett to score the winning try.
“I always look forward to getting back into it, but especially so this time because we’ve been out of action for so long. In the last eight months I’ve had the time to get the ankle 100 per cent fit again — a far cry from last year when, within a couple of weeks of getting injured, I was tromping around America on holiday.
“This time I’m raring to go. All the time off we’ve had has been a great healer for my ankle. I can’t wait to get back into it all with the rest of the lads. I love the fans and I love being at the club. It’s a pity it’s in Lancashire, but for all that it’s home-from-home and in my three years there I’ve come to love the place. I couldn’t be anywhere better.”
Johnson, who normally plays wing or full-back, joined Roughyeds for the start of the 2018 League One season, in which he scored five tries in 16 appearances, mainly on the wing.
He then signed a two-year deal covering 2019 and 2020 and his new agreement will take him up to November 30 next year.
Two of his 15 appearances in 2019 (seven tries) were on the left wing in the games that clinched promotion — a 22-12 win against Doncaster in the Qualifying Semi-Final and the thrilling 18-14 victory against Newcastle Thunder in the Play-Off Final, both at the Vestacare Stadium.
He played in four of Oldham’s six games at the start of this year, including a rare centre appearance at Toulouse when he and Dan Abram filled the centre spots because of a pile-up of injuries in the backs.
The 25 players announced so far as having signed for 2021 are split into backs and forwards like this:
BACKS: Lewis Charnock, Dave Hewitt, Tommy Brierley, Cam Leeming, Dan Abram, Ben Heaton, John Hutchings, Ben Holcroft, Max Roberts, Callum Green, James Barran, Kyran Johnson.
FORWARDS: Danny Langtree, Tyler Dupree, Martyn Reilly, Luke Nelmes, Matthew Fletcher, Matty Wilkinson, Gareth Owen, Jack Spencer, Liam Bent, Ed Smith, Phil Joy, Shaun Pick, Liam Kirk.