“Competition will be tough”…..Scott

Date published: Thursday, February 20, 2014
SCOTT Naylor has warned that his Oldham RL players this season will have to scrap for places like they’ve never scrapped before.
His 22-man squad is similar in number to last year’s, but Naylor wouldn’t swop it for the one which finished second in Championship One in 2013 with the best away record in the division.

“Spot-for-spot there will be a lot more competition this time,” said the Roughyeds’ boss.

“We set out this year to bring in more quality across the board in order to give me a squad which will allow me to happily use every single player in it.

“That was the aim and I think we’ve achieved it.

“Hopefully, it will mean that there will always be a replacement of equal ability waiting to get into the side in the event of somebody picking up a slight knock, letting his form dip a little or not matching up in terms of giving 100 per cent.”

Citing the front-row as an example, he said his props would have to be consistently on their mettle with Jason Boults, Michael Ward, Alex Davidson and Paddy Mooney all in contention and Phil Joy (the coach’s player of the year in 2013) waiting in the wings while he continues to have rehab on a groin injury.

“Josh Crowley proved against Swinton that he can also play prop,” added Naylor, who said he had a similar number of options in other positions such as hooker, half-back and back-row.

The postponement of the Leigh friendly means it will be three weeks between games by the time Oldham open up their league campaign against South Wales Scorpions in Maesteg on Sunday week, March 2.

Only 16 of the 22 men in the squad played in each of the warm-up games against Barrow and Swinton.

Crowley, Mooney and Tom Whitehead turned out in one of them, but club captain Lewis Palfrey, Joy and the latest signing George Tyson have still to make their entrance.

Palfrey didn’t play in the two friendlies because of a problem with a muscle in his lower back, but he was cleared to play against Leigh and will be available for selection in the 18 to travel to South Wales.

Full-back Whitehead is also expected to be up for selection. He missed the Swinton game because of an Achilles injury, but Naylor said it was responding to rest and treatment.