Crowley sets the ball rolling

Date published: Friday, October 10, 2014
OLDHAM have beaten off strong interest from derby rivals Rochdale Hornets to re-sign Josh Crowley for next season.
Having played in EVERY game across his two seasons at Whitebank, Crowley has signed a new one-year contract to kick-start the club’s squad-building operation for life in the new, 14-club Kingstone Press League One.
With 20 Oldham tries in 49 games overall, his decision to reject other offers and to stick with the club that rescued his career in 2012 will be warmly welcomed by the Whitebank faithful.
A lot of fans feared he would be lured away, like Mo Agoro, but Crowley was having none of that and was delighted to put pen to paper on his new deal.
Of the clubs that courted him, Rochdale led the pack.
Said Crowley (23): “Other clubs were interested, but I like playing for Oldham and, after all, they saved my career when Widnes released me.
“Back then, I was ready to finish with rugby league, but Chris Hamilton (Oldham chairman) rang and asked me to meet him. I liked what he said so I decided to give it one last shot.
“Once at Oldham and working for Scott (head coach Naylor) I quickly regained my appetite for the sport and you never forget things like that.
“I’m devastated we didn’t make it to the Championship in last Sunday’s Grand Final, and I don’t think I’ll ever get it out of my system until we’ve made amends and finally won the right to play up there.
“Anyway, next season we’ll be playing five clubs who were in the Championship in 2014, so those games will lay down a good marker.
“From a position in which I was going to turn my back on rugby, I’m now thinking I still might get into Super League one day, and I owe all that to Oldham.
“Next season is going to be tough, but we’ll have more games and fewer blank Sundays and that will suit me fine.”
Explaining why he was delighted to get Crowley’s signature on a new contract, Naylor said he had been one of the club’s best and most consistent players over the last two seasons.
He added: “He gets better and better and I don’t think he appreciates just how good he can be. The future looks good for him. I’m really pleased he has decided to stay.”
Club bosses, meanwhile, have expressed their disappointment that Agoro signed for Grand Final opponents Hunslet Hawks on the big day at Headingley when he was with the Roughyeds’ party, although not among the 17 who played.
Said Naylor: “It was a surprise to us to learn that Mo had left. He clearly wanted to play in a higher division, but it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to convince him that he would be better off staying with us.”
* From next season, all three professional divisions will have a uniform points system — two for a win and one for a draw.
Bonus points in the two Championship divisions, earned by teams which lost by 12 points or fewer, have been scrapped.
“As part of the new structure, it’s vital we have a standardised points system across all three divisions,” said RLF chief Nigel Wood.