Clarke signs new One year contract

Date published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CHRIS Clarke, the latest Oldham RL player to sign a new one-year contract, will be glad to see the back of 2011 and his ‘annus horribilis’.

In April his father Colin died in Manchester Royal Infirmary, aged 50, after a short illness.

Chris chose to play in the next game against Rochdale Hornets at Whitebank on Good Friday, leading the team out as a tribute to his dad, one of his keenest fans.

[singlepic id=674 w=320 h=240 float=left]”In the weeks that followed rugby was the only thing keeping me going,” recalled Chris today, “but even that was taken away from me when I was injured in the 18-16 defeat at Swinton on May 27.

“I was really down then and I thought . . . what next? The last few months have been awful.

“I’ve had to pick myself up but even now, four months later, I’m desperate for a game so I can get rid of a lot of frustration and aggression. I can’t wait. The new season can’t come quickly enough.”

Clarke, 22, hasn’t played since that ill-fated day at The Willows when Roughyeds were denied victory over the champions elect by the raised flag of a touchjudge as winger Matthew Fogarty flew over in the corner for the disallowed ‘winner’ two minutes from time.

Worse still, it was a game that was to finish Clarke for the season after he snapped a tendon in his left thumb. He was sidelined for the last three and a half months of the season, missing the last ten league games and then the play-off.

There are signs now, though, that brighter days lie ahead for the up-and-coming and highly-rated Clarke.

He has been cleared by both hospital and hand clinic and has since put pen to paper on a deal that further commits him to his hometown club to November 30 next year.

Described by coach Tony Benson as a young forward who is “full of talent” and “full of passion for Oldham”, Clarke expects to be fully fit and ready to go by the start of the new season in less than four months time.

“We suffered a huge loss when he was injured,” added Benson. “He’s strong, determined and aggressive in the tackle. Opponents soon think twice about running at him.

“He’s also talented enough to play different roles within the forwards. I can play him at prop, second-row or loose and he will play well in all three.”

Clarke had an operation to rebuild his shattered right thumb two years ago.

And he will take a long time to forget the day his left thumb was also rendered useless in a tackle.

“It was strapped up and I finished the game,” he recalled, “but even when I went to hospital the thought that my season might be over never entered my head

“They wanted to perform a similar operation to the one I had on the other thumb, but I didn’t want two thumb reconstructions, so I opted for a natural heal which meant the thumb was in plaster for 12 weeks.

“I can catch a ball again now, but I still have a lot of work to do in order to strengthen the joint. Once I’m back in the gym I’ll tailor my training programme accordingly.”