IT’S ‘as you were’ at Oldham Rugby League Club where Brian McDermott has named an unchanged 21-man squad for Sunday’s clash with the full-time professionals of London Broncos at Bower Fold (3pm kick-off).
It includes the three players who were hurt at Whitehaven last week and went off never to return; namely, half-back Dave Hewitt (ribs), centre Ryan Ince (concussion) and full-back Dan Abram (knee).
Their inclusion in the provisional 21 clearly indicates they must have, at the very least, a reasonable chance of being cleared in time.
McDermott’s decision to go with an unchanged squad is a reflection of the side’s stirring performance up in Cumbria, where Roughyeds led 24-16 early in the second-half with a strong and highly-committed display which lifted spirits and raised hopes that relegation can still be avoided.
They slipped to a 28-24 defeat in the second game since high-profile McDermott arrived at the club as coaching consultant, but the former Leeds Rhinos and Toronto Wolfpack boss has since said it is an “absolute pleasure” to be working with the Oldham group.
His remit is to keep Oldham in the Championship and he has eight games left in which to steer Roughyeds out of the bottom two.
London, in sixth place, haven’t played for three weeks, partially due to Covid problems that caused the postponement of last week’s game against Widnes Vikings.
Several of their players have been in isolation and were only ‘freed’ today (Friday).
Coach Tom Tsang insists Broncos are fired up and ready to go, although he expects a tough and physical challenge at Bower Fold.
“Our training has been executed to a very high standard, but Oldham are very strong at home and they’ve been extremely unlucky in recent games.
“Their league position means players are fighting for their livelihoods and we must match their hunger and desire. If we do that, I’m confident our quality will shine through.”
That quality includes stand-off Jarrod Sammutt, who has scored nine tries in his last six games against Oldham (three for Broncos, three for Workington) and winger Abbas Miski, who has signed for Wigan Warriors next season.
Centre Chris Hankinson, formerly of Wigan, Salford, Leigh and Swinton, is the Championship’s second-best goalkicker with 53 this season — only three behind the leader, York’s Kieran Dixon.
The Oldham club is offering big discounts on tickets bought online before midnight Saturday and has announced that under-16s will go free.
Full details, which include special offers for clubs and organisations, can be found on the Roughyeds website at roughyeds.co.uk.
With turnstiles, food outlets and bars open for the first time for more than 18 months it will be like old times at Bower Fold.
OLDHAM (from): D Abram, J Abram, Barran, Bent, Bridge, Brierley, Charnock, Dupree, Fletcher, Green, Hartley, Hewitt, Holcroft, Hutchings, Ince, Kirk, Langtree, Nelmes, Pick, Reilly, Roberts.
BRONCOS: Miski, Hankinson, Lovell, Jones, Horsman, Meadows, Sammutt, Ogden, Hodson, Richards, Curran, O Leyland, Williams, Hindmarsh, Moran, Egodo, Walters, W Leyland, Silva.
Included for the first time in the Broncos squad are two members of the Academy side that won at Hull a few days ago – Bill Leyland and Ramon Silva.
- Referee: C. Smith
- Touch Judge: A.Johnson
- Touch Judge: T.Jones