“Edwin’s” got what it takes”

Date published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
EDWIN Okanga-Ajwang, ‘baby’ of the Oldham dressing room, has what it takes to make a name for himself in senior rugby league.
That’s the view of Roughyeds boss Scott Naylor, who has lauded the teenage centre’s potential in the build-up to Sunday’s big challenge at Bradford Bulls in the fourth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
At 19 years, four months and four days, the dual-registration capture from Salford Red Devils is Oldham’s youngest player by eight months from London-born prop Paddy Mooney.
Despite his youth, however, he is one of only two players in the Oldham squad who has had experience of playing at the highest level in the domestic game.
He has played twice for Salford in Super League, while prop Alex Davidson, not much older at 21, can boast three appearances at that level, also for the Red Devils.
Said Naylor: “I’ve seen Edwin come through as a kid, so I know what he’s capable of. He’s full of potential and he’s at Oldham to show us that he can perform at the next level.
“He just needs a run of games. He’s joined a club with different systems in attack and defence to anything he’s been used to before, and he’s also playing with a different set of lads.
“He just needs to play rugby, play as we want him to play and he’ll get better week by week. Edwin is a very talented lad and I’m looking forward to seeing him improve week on week.”
Naylor confirmed after last night’s training session that everybody is fit apart from the three long-term casualties — Adam Files, David Cookson and Liam Thompson.
That leaves him with 20 players at his disposal, comprising the 17 who won 18-16 at London last time out, plus Davidson, Steven Nield and George Tyson.
Cookson (groin) is expected to be cleared in time for the league game against Gateshead Thunder at Whitebank a week on Sunday, April 13 (3pm kick off).
Thompson, who has had surgery to mend three fractures in an eye socket, could be out for up to another two and a half months.
Files, who has a serious knee injury, is still waiting to be told exactly what damage has been caused and what is needed to be done to put it right.
“He had had a scan and other investigative procedures, but we haven’t yet been given the full extent of the damage,” said Naylor.
The Oldham tie will be Bradford’s first game at the Provident Stadium since new owner Marc Green took over last week.
He has since appointed the experienced Steve Ferres as his new managing director and assured Robbie Hunter-Paul that he has his full support as chief executive.
The RFL, meanwhile, have suspended Bull’s second-rower Tom Olbison for one game for putting undue pressure on Widnes forward Danny Tickle’s neck during the Vikings 22-18 win last Sunday.
Olbison, who pleaded not guilty to a grade C offence, was also fined £300 after the severity-rating of the offence was downgraded to B.
Bradford have won two of their seven Super League games to date — more than London Broncos and Catalan Dragons and a similar number to Wakefield and Hull KR — but they are bottom of the league on minus-2 because of a six-point penalty for going into administration.
Bulls player Danny Addy believes a cup win over Oldham could kick-start their season and help them to climb out of the relegation zone.
He told the club’s website: “Everyone wants to build a cup run, but we also know that such a run can provide a major boost to our Super League campaign.”