All eyes on Ford

Date published: Friday, May 24, 2013

ALL eyes will be on dual-reg Jon Ford, a teenager tipped for the top, when Oldham RL go for their third win in four games at Whitebank on Sunday (1pm kick off).

Opponents Gateshead Thunder were beaten 34-16 in the Northern Rail Cup at the same venue in March and Roughyeds will be aiming for a repeat.
Nineteen-year-old Ford, contracted to Salford City Reds for three years, didn’t play in that game but he’s no stranger to life in the Oldham jersey, having played twice previously.
A tall centre, he scored in a Northern Rail defeat by North Wales at Wrexham on the opening day of the season and surfaced again at Hemel Stags seven games and ten weeks later, forming a potent left-flank strike force with hat-trick winger Dale Bloomfield.
Only last year he toured Australia with England Academy.
He trained with Roughyeds last night, after which coach Scott Naylor said: “I can confirm that Ford will definitely be with us again on Sunday.
“Earlier in the week I thought I might have had another dual-reg player as well, but that has not materialised.
“There may be more though as the season unfolds.
“Jon looked a class act down at Hemel and he will be keen to play well again on his Whitebank debut.”
Half-back Danny Whitmore, back on loan from Batley, also impressed on debut last time out and, like Ford, will be keen to show up well on home soil.
Naylor said that as there was no game last Sunday, the players had been put through four intensive training sessions over the last week and a half, followed by a lighter one last night.
As ever, the line-up won’t be announced until the players report for the third session of the week tomorrow morning.
Naylor said it would be “very similar” to the last game, although fans could expect minor changes, caused by his squad rotation policy.
A 21-man squad, to be cut to 17 or 18 on Saturday morning, comprises the 17 on duty at Hemel plus Sam Gee, Steven Nield, Neil Roden and the most recent addition to the roster, Nial Bradley.
Oldham (from): Lepori, Agoro, Cookson, Nield, Ford, Bloomfield, Roden, Palfrey, Whitmore, Gilchrist, Boults, Ward, Hughes, Files, Gee, Joy, Crowley, Langtree, Hobson, Thompson, Bradley.
Gateshead have lost the services of Cumbrian half-back or hooker Gavin Beasley and prop Jack Stearman, but coach Kevin Neighbour believes Thunder could pull off a surprise win.
He said: “We’ve improved since we lost at Oldham in the Northern Rail Cup. They have too. They are physical up the middle and they are a very capable team, but we’ll be ready for them.”
+ FANS should note the 1pm kick-off time to avoid a clash with Super League’s Magic Weekend at The Etihad Stadium.