Chris Clarke

Date published: Thursday, October 21, 2010

ROUGHYEDS rookie Chris Clarke, who enjoyed a superb first season at senior level, is banking on more of the same in the Oldham RL jersey next year.

His initial two-year contract expired at the end of last season, but the highly-rated 21-year-old has delighted club officials by putting pen to paper on a new one-year deal.

He becomes the third product of the club’s youth policy, following Ben Heaton and Scott Mansfield, to remain loyal to the club that discovered him by signing a second contract.

Roughyeds now have six Oldhamers signed on for next year in Clarke, Danny Whitmore, Mansfield, John Gillam, Michael Ward and Ben Marsden.

“To play for Oldham means a lot to me,” said Clarke, who lives in Lees and who has been a close friend of Danny Whitmore’s since the days when they were in the same class at Hey-with-Zion primary school.

True to his roots, Clarke still uses a gum shield coloured green and gold — the colours of amateurs Oldham St Anne’s where he played from the age of seven.

Chris Hamilton with man of the match Chris Clarke

I never go into a game without that gum shield. I take a little bit of St Anne’s with me into battle. Both clubs are important to me. After all, my mum and dad have been supporting Oldham since I was a small boy and the team played at Watersheddings.”

Clarke was given his first-team debut at Leigh on the opening day of last season. He never looked back, playing in 22 of the 28 games and establishing himself as a firm favourite of the Whitebank crowd.

Over the course of the season he was asked to play prop, second-row and loose-forward and he applied himself successfully to all three roles.

“It was a brilliant season for me,” he added. “The other players were always nice, even if I made a mistake, and I learned a lot from them. I enjoyed playing at that level. It was a great feeling to be playing for my town.

“Loose-forward is my favourite spot, but I was just happy to be playing anywhere in the team. My personal highlight was scoring late on against York in the play-off semi-final.

“Having signed on for another year, my personal goal is to be the best I can be. I’m hoping to have another good year and then I’ll see what happens after that. But as long as I’m playing rugby and enjoying it, that suits me fine.

“How good I will be will depend to a large degree on how committed I am. That can only be down to me.”