‘Fans can make the difference’ — Scott

Date published: Friday, February 27, 2015
SCOTT Naylor is looking to Oldham fans to play a significant role in what he believes will be a “terrific” season at Whitebank.
Anticipating lots of “ups and downs” and games that will be in the balance to the 80th minute, the Roughyeds boss says supporters can tip the balance Oldham’s way, especially at Whitebank.
Said Naylor: “We need them to back us in numbers and, in tight games, to help us to get across the line.
“They can make all the difference.”
Though the new, 14-club Kingstone Press League One doesn’t start until Easter, Naylor’s men face an important March, kicking off with Sunday’s first-round League One Cup clash with new boys Coventry Bears (3pm) and then meeting them again a week later in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, both at Whitebank.
In facing the Bears, Naylor is wary of the unknown.
“We should have learned a lesson from what Oxford did to us in similar circumstances two years ago in one of my early games in charge,” he said.
“We know little about them and that makes them dangerous. In pre-season they ran Hemel close and then won at Gloucester, so they’ll be up for it, full of enthusiasm and determined to put on a show.
“We could have won each of our three friendlies, but we’ll still have to play a whole lot better if we are to achieve our goals in league and cup.
“We know what we need to do in order to improve. There’s nothing we can’t fix, so it isn’t a big problem.”
Naylor is delighted to have signed Nathan Mason from partner club Huddersfield Giants on season-long loan, believing that the Oldhamer will play a hugely significant role in anything Roughyeds achieve over the next eight months.
He says the young prop is looking more like a Super League player every day and another season in the rough-and-tumble of League One will be an important part of his graduation into the elite competition with the Giants.
More immediately, the Roughyeds boss will stress to his players that Coventry must be given total respect.
He has every reason for being on his guard.
The Bears have been one of the strongest amateur clubs outside of the sport’s heartlands for more than 16 years.
They are well established in the Midlands, having won loads of National Conference silverware over the years, and are aiming, in season one at this level, to finish in the top half of the table and to do better than Hemel, Oxford and Gloucester.
They are linked with Bradford Bulls and Coventry RU Club, from whom they have signed winger Dave Rundle, who will play year-round rugby, joining Bears in April when his union season is over.
Simon Phillips, the captain, has played for North Queensland Cowboys plus more than 200 games for Wynnum in the Queensland Cup — a feeder competition for NRL clubs,
Other newly-signed Aussies include prop James Geurtjens (28) from another Queensland Cup side, Burleigh Bears, and second-rower Paul Ivan from the Redcliffe club.
Winger Ben Parry has signed from St Helens on a three-year deal and several other players have joined from pro clubs, among them second-row man Chris Barratt from Salford and others who have played academy and second-team rugby at Sheffield Eagles.
Coach Tom Tsang, Yorkshire born and bred, played for five years in the scholarship and academy ranks at Huddersfield Giants and later studied at Leeds Met University before working for the RFL for seven years as a development officer.
He said: “We are determined to prove we deserve to be in this league on merit.
“Our primary target is to be the best of the ‘new’ clubs and then work from there.
“That may seem fanciful to a lot of people, but we genuinely believe we can finish in the top half.
“Oldham are a great and historical club in a town which has produced some of the greatest players in the game and we are honoured to be playing them in our first two games as a semi-professional club.”