PROP Jode Sheriffe, our squad’s senior citizen at the age of 34, will soon start a new chapter in his long rugby league career when he joins the Roughyeds coaching staff.
Oldham RLFC is delighted to announce that the former Halifax, Featherstone, Bradford Bulls, Keighley Cougars and Dewsbury Rams forward has signed a new one-year contract as both player and assistant coach — a new role in which he will still be available as a player while also working alongside the other assistant coach, Brendan Sheridan, and under the boss, head coach Matt Diskin.
As part of the new arrangement, and enforced changes to comply with Covid regulations, conditioner Tim Abeyie leaves the club with thanks for work already done and with the club’s best wishes for the future.
Said chairman Chris Hamilton:
“Covid has, and continues to have, a significant impact on how we plan for taking the club forward. As such, training next month will be very different to anything players have known previously. New protocols and regulations are designed to make sure that players are not in close contact with each other for prolonged periods.
“Covid has caused a rethink in how we go about things and has provided an opportunity for Jode to take his first steps on the coaching ladder while also remaining as a player. It will help Jode to progress in coaching and it will help Matt and Brendan to make sure that our coaching remains of the highest standard.
“Fans have not yet seen Jode in an Oldham jersey because of the knee injury he picked up in pre-season training last year. He was bitterly disappointed with that. Covid has delayed his operation, but he’s due to have it soon. Recovery time for that particular operation is not long so we look forward to seeing him making a double impact.”
A member of a well-known Yorkshire-based rugby league family, Sheriffe played for Halifax and Bradford in his youthful formative years before spending most of his senior career with Featherstone Rovers, Keighley Cougars and Dewsbury Rams plus six international appearances for Jamaica as well as spells on loan with Rochdale Hornets and Harlequins.
He has played nearly 200 senior games in total, most of them in the Championship with Keighley and Dewsbury. from whom Roughyeds signed him a year ago as a replacement for Scott Law. Between 2017 and 2019 inclusive, he played 74 games for the Rams, while he and his wife ran their own business, teaching the rudiments of the game to children as young as two up to the age of seven or eight.
In his younger days while in the academy side at Bradford, he was appointed captain; twice won the players’ player-of-the-year award; and also carried of the coach’s player-of-the year accolade.
Having initially signed Sheriffe on a one-year contract to cover the 2020 season, Diskin said:
“We needed a big, craggy prop in the middle, especially since Scott Law headed off to Australia. Like Scott, Jode has been around a long time and he knows the game inside out. We did well to get him because there aren’t many players about who fit into that mould.
“He’s passionate about the game — always has been — and he will be good for us around the club and in the dressing room as well as on the pitch.”
He and his brothers, Rikki and Jesse, are all well known on the rugby league circuit, especially in Yorkshire.
Jode said at the time of his original signing for Oldham:
“I’m relishing this new challenge. Oldham seems to be a closely-knit, family type of club and that was one of the main things that appealed to me when I talked to the chairman.”
Unfortunately, he damaged a knee in a freak accident during pre-season training and he was told he would need surgery, though not of the more demanding type. By the time the season was curtailed by Covid — six games in for us — he was still waiting for the op, so Oldham fans haven’t yet seen him in a Roughyeds jersey.
After signing his new 2021 twin-role contract — player and assistant coach — he said:
“I’m excited. I have my telephone pre-op talk this Thursday (tomorrow) and I’m hoping to get my op before the end of the year. I still have a year or two left as a player. To be honest, I hadn’t even given coaching a thought until Disco said I was no longer a spring chicken and it was perhaps time for me to think about life after hanging up my boots. He was right, of course, and I didn’t need asking twice when I was invited to join the coaching staff.
“It will be a new challenge and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been in the game a long time and I know it will be nice to work alongside Brendan (Sheridan) and to learn from both him and Disco.
“I think it’s going to be a cracking season. We’ve made lots of good signings and I’m eager to see what we can do and where we can go.” Diskin said of Jode: “He’s got a wealth of experience and he’s at the stage of his career where he has to manage his body a bit more than younger players and start to think about his future. He’ll be coming on board not only as a player, but to work alongside Brendan and to give our younger players the benefit of everything he has learned in all his years in the game.
“We are also having to make changes because of Covid rules and regulations and the fact we don’t have our own training facilities like a lot of other clubs. Government protocol means we can’t use an off-site gym so as things stand at present we’ve had to make significant changes and put a new structure in place.
“It’s one I’ve been familiar with in the past and it involves putting players on trust to work on things from home so that we can spend our time together differently and within Government guidelines. With that in mind we’ve added Jode to the coaching team and parted company with Tim (Abeyie), our strength and conditioner, thanking him for his efforts and wishing him all the best for the future.”
Sheriffe becomes the 27th player on Diskin’s playing roster for 2021, a season which will most likely see very few players moving between clubs, given that there will be no dual registrations and almost certainly a lot fewer loan deals because of new restrictions on recalls.