And then there were three . . . again !Date published: Thursday, November 12, 2015
THE three hookers who collectively played a massive part in Oldham RL Club’s 2015 promotion campaign will again give Scott Naylor plenty of dummy half options in the Championship next season.
Following the lead set by Gareth Owen and Adam Files, Kenny Hughes is the latest member of the League One title-winning squad to sign a new one-year contract, thus retaining the talented triumvirate which Naylor regularly employed to out-wit rival coaches behind the play-the-ball.
Aged 25 and the eldest of the three, Hughes is now looking ahead to his sixth season with Roughyeds, having played two years in the reserves with the likes of Danny Langtree, Steven Nield, Michael Ward and Phil Joy before stepping up to senior level when Naylor arrived at Whitebank in the autumn of 2012.
With Naylor in command, the former St Helens academy No 9 has made 65 appearances out of a maximum 77.
It remains to be seen whether Naylor will again go with three hookers in a higher division that will provide different demands on his squad. but either way Hughes knows he’ll have to scrap for his place like never before.
“Competition for places will be tough right through the team, and that’s how it should be,” he said.
“Last season was fantastic, but it’s gone, finished. We’re back in training for 2016 and we must now focus entirely on what lies ahead.
“Kane Daniels (strength and fitness coach) has warned us that tonight we’re in for the toughest session we’ve ever had so he means to start as he’s going to carry on.
“Things are looking good. The core of the squad has been together for three years and with each passing season we’re older and more mature as players.
“We’ll need to control as many games as we can, like we did last year, but I feel sure we’ve got the potential, both on the field and within our coaching and backroom staff, to hold our own and consolidate in the higher division.”
Hughes is one of several players who have been at Whitebank for five years and have played in five consecutive finals — two in the reserves and three in the first team.
Said Naylor: “We’ve only had Kenny under our wing for the past three of those years, but he has improved season on season.
“Using three hookers in most games last season seemed to work for us. They all did exceptionally well and it’s good to know that we’ve got them all signed on again.
“Like others who have signed new deals, they deserve a chance to play in the Championship to show what they can do at the next level up.”