Message from Chris

Date published: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ROUGHYEDS chief Chris Hamilton has sent out a message to supporters in order to reassure them that last Sunday’s bitterly disappointing 60-4 defeat by Hunslet Hawks at Whitebank will merely serve to strengthen the club’s desire to continue to make steady progress on and off the field.

“We took a drubbing,” he said, “and nobody wants to hide from that, or to paper over the cracks, but at this stage of our development we are going to have blips and, hugely disappointing though it was, the setback needs to be kept in perspective.”

Having reached the half-way stage of the Co-operative Championship 1 season, Roughyeds are in second place in the division, having won eight of the ten games played.

The squad, in the main, is a young one and in recent games it has been forced by injury to go into battle without three of the most experienced players on the books in Neil Roden, Marcus St Hilaire and Valu Bentley.

Moreover, circumstances dictated that teenage loan signing Gregg McNally was thrown in at the deep end in a key organisational role despite having trained with his new team mates only a couple of times.

Chris pointed out that Roughyeds fielded five players who were aged 21 or under, and all in their first season of senior rugby, against a Hunslet side that was packed full of experience all over the park.

Chris Clarke and Joe Chandler were in the forwards; McNally had a lot of responsibility at scrum-half; and Ben Heaton and Danny Whitmore came off the bench.

He said Clarke, Heaton and 18th man Scott Mansfield had done superbly well to come through the reserves set-up and to achieve all they had achieved already this year. They were a shining example of what dedicated young men with ability could aspire to, and the club was confident in their ability to go on achieving.

He added: “We are also delighted to give opportunities to young players who have come to us from other clubs.

“Danny Whitmore, Joe Chandler, Ben Mellor and Kashley Watkins are only slightly older than the other three and they are also playing first-team rugby for the first time.

“They are all first team squad members — Danny and Joe have figured regularly — yet in rugby league terms and in the wider picture they are just babies.

“Anyone who has played the game will tell you that the jump from reserve team rugby at any level of the sport to first team rugby in either of the Championship divisions is a massive one.

“We had five youngsters playing on Sunday against a big and highly experienced Hunslet side, and we musn’t forget that Gregg McNally, who has joined us on a month’s loan from Huddersfield, is only 19.

“I’m sure the lad was a bit shell-shocked and if he was he wasn’t on his own. He is a very good player, but the lad is 19 and he came in for his debut with a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and on a day when we got a drubbing from a Hunslet team that might not play as well as that again all season.

“We have a lot of young players making their way in the sport and we are delighted about that because we have always said we will give youth — and particularly local youth — a chance.

“They are good young players and good young men. They are exuberant, they show no fear and they are determined to do their utmost to give themselves a chance of progressing up the ladder.

“They have done us proud this year, and as a club we are proud of them, but they are still learning and they have a big learning curve to go through. They know that more than anyone.

“We are bound to have the odd blip, like we had on Sunday, but it isn’t the end of the world and it certainly isn’t the end of the season. Take a look at the table; Oldham are in second place and at the start of the season nobody outside the club fancied us to do anything.

“Tony Benson and the squad will be working hard to overcome another big test at Workington on Sunday and then we’ve got two more home games so hopefully we can kick on again.

“The club is making progress and moving forward at all levels, both on and off the field, and nothing is going to interfere with that.”