A “grueller” coming up

Date published: Friday, June 20, 2014

SCOTT Naylor has warned that Oldham will face a “real grueller” on Tyneside against Stanley Gene’s rejuvenated Gateshead Thunder.

“They’ll be full of quality players — recent signings and a few on loan or dual registration from Hull KR,” said Naylor, of a Thunder squad that North-East pundits believe has the clout and ambition to go places since it was taken over by Premiership rugby union club Newcastle Falcons.
“They played Hull KR’s Kris Welham at York last week, a vastly experienced Super League centre, and the word is they’re going to give a debut to a Kiwi half-back, Jordan Meads, who’s come through the ranks at Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Warriors.
“Only our best will do.”
David Cookson, who didn’t train on Tuesday because he was down with a virus, was back in harness last night so he should be okay unless he suffers a reaction.
In the forwards, George Tyson is doubtful with knocks to his back and ankle, but Danny Langtree is available again after sitting out last Sunday’s 58-2 win against South Wales Scorpions because of a one-match RFL suspension.
Added Naylor: “I’ve some difficult choices to make in the pack because I liked Ben Wood’s performance last week and Liam Thompson is also ready to go after his long injury lay-off.
“I would have preferred him to have a run-out with the under-20s first, but he’s certainly in the mix with all the others.”
Sticking with routine, Naylor will finalise his line-up at training tomorrow but, like Gateshead’s Gene, he won’t announce it publicly until an hour before kick-off.
Greg Eden, Aaron Ollett and Sonny Esslemont, who played for Thunder when they were trounced 52-16 at Whitebank in April, are all included in Hull KR’s 19-man squad for tonight’s Super League game at Bradford.
So too is Welham, who has more than 120 Super League games for Rovers on his CV.
Young half-back Matty Beharrell, also from Hull KR, is a Thunder regular, while in recent weeks they have also used another of his Craven Park team mates, winger Omari Caro.
Outside of their Hull KR contingent, which changes on a week-to-week basis, Thunder have recruited heavily in recent weeks, signing much-travelled stand-off Jamie Rooney, Dewsbury Rams pair Louis Sheriff and Joe Farrell on loan, winger Lee Mapals from Hunslet and, from Down Under, Jordan Meads.
They are skippered by long-serving forward Jason Payne, whose 12 tries place him second behind Oxford’s Sean Morris (13) in the league list. Dale Bloomfield is on 11 and Mo Agoro 10.