Ben Wood signs for Oldham

Date published: Thursday, November 4, 2010

BIG Ben Wood, a young giant from Salford City Reds, has rejected approaches from Championship clubs to team up at Oldham with his close friend and former Willows team mate Danny Whitmore.

Standing 6ft5in tall and weighing in at 16 stone, 21-year-old Wood is the ninth Oldham-born player to be contracted to the Roughyeds for 2011.

He was reared on rugby at Saddleworth School and Saddleworth Rangers before spending five formative years at Salford, working his way through the scholarship, foundation and academy tiers of development.

It was there that he struck up a firm friendship with Whitmore, who played a prominent part in Wood’s decision to choose Oldham ahead of other clubs who were chasing his signature.

“Danny is one of my best mates,” said Wood. “He knew Salford were releasing me. One or two Championship clubs were interested, but Danny advised me strongly to give Oldham a chance because he had loved his first year with Roughyeds and had signed on again for the 2011 season.

“He said that, like him, I would learn a lot at Oldham while enjoying my rugby at the same time — and Chris Hamilton (club chairman) spoke on similar lines. Everything Chris said sounded good, so I took Danny’s advice and signed a one-year deal.”

Wood, who had a brief spell at Warrington Wolves before joining Salford, was 18th man for the City Reds’ Super League side on several occasions last season. He plays centre or second-row with a preference for the pack.

Said chairman Hamilton: “Ben is another good capture — a player in the same mould as several young ones who have joined us in the past two years from Super League clubs.

“We’ve told him we’ll develop him as a player in the sort of environment he will enjoy. He’s a big lad, and we are looking forward now to seeing him in action.”

Wood, whose grandfather is a lifelong Oldham supporter, still cherishes ambitions to play in Super League one day, but more immediately he is focused on helping Roughyeds to win promotion to the Championship.

“My first goal has to be to get into the first-team squad every week,” he said. “I would like to think that we can win promotion outright next season.

“I know Oldham people have been saying that for the last few years, but I genuinely believe that with the players Roughyeds have signed already we can mount a very serious challenge at least.”

Contracted players homing in on familiar soil for Roughyeds next season (amateur clubs in brackets) will be John Gillam (St Anne’s), Scott Mansfield (Saddleworth), Danny Whitmore (Waterhead), Chris Clarke (St Anne’s), Alistair Williams (Shaw Tigers, Waterhead, Hollinwood), Michael Diveney (Waterhead), Ben Wood (Saddleworth), Michael Ward (Saddleworth) and Ben Marsden (St Anne’s).