WHEN your coach and his two assistants insist their favourite song is ‘Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At’ and the tea they drink must be Yorkshire Tea, it’s a decent bet they’ll look no further than the White Rose county when they are on the look-out for big, tough forwards.
They don’t go ‘doon ‘pit’ any more for burly forwards, but when Dewsbury-born Matt Diskin and his right-hand men Brendan Sheridan and Jode Sheriffe were in the hunt for new players to put some steel into their forward pack they were more than happy to put their faith in fellow Tykes.
They might be playing for a Lancashire club, but in Sunday’s second-round Betfred Challenge Cup tie against Swinton Lions (12.30pm), Oldham will be looking to Yorkshire lads Luke Nelmes, Liam Kirk, Shaun Pick, Tyler Dupree and Martyn Reilly to lead the way in the crucial battle of the big men up front.
When they were looking to strengthen for this season, Diskin and his aides identified a need for more experience, strength, size and ‘mongrel’ among their ‘middles’, as they call the props these days, in order to give the rest of the side a sporting chance.
They came up with Nelmes, once of Halifax and Dewsbury), Kirk (Bradford Bulls), Pick (Featherstone, Toronto Wolfpack, Sheffield and Batley), Dupree (Leeds Rhinos) and Reilly (Wakefield and Dewsbury). On those five Yorkshiremen, and their ability to put Roughyeds on the front foot, will rest many of the club’s hopes and aspirations in 2021.
It will be up to them, with help from others, to win the battle of the forwards and to establish the platform from which the half-backs, wide-running second-rowers like Danny Bridge and Danny Langtree and the outside backs can do the rest.
The five Yorkists will be key to success at Heywood Road against a Lions side led by Martyn Ridyard which will be keen to use the wide-open spaces of that ground and to run Oldham’s bigger forwards around.
Of the five, Nelmes, Dupree and Pick have made the biggest impact so far, Pick with one shuddering tackle on Jordan Walne in the last round.
Such was its ferocity and its speed of strike that the unfortunate Walne was laid out cold and eventually led from the field. Referee and touch judge ruled it a fair challenge.
Nelmes was equally forceful against a big Barrow pack, which included three or four former Super League forwards who would themselves have proved intimidating had Roughyeds showed the slightest hint of taking a backward step.
Dupree, only 21, was outstanding. He’s big, athletic, supremely fit and he has a good pair of hands. Combine his physical attributes with his skills on the ball and you have a player who could go a long way in the game if he stays grounded.
Roughyeds are looking forward to the tie and are quietly confident of going through while understanding they can’t afford to make the many handling errors that took a little of the gloss off their first-round win against Barrow.
+ The tie will be broadcast live by the BBC and shown on iPlayer, the Red Button and BBC Sport’s digital platforms. It will be free-to-view.