Fighting for places

Date published: Friday, July 11, 2014
SCOTT Naylor has warned his players, ahead of Sunday’s visit of Gloucester All Golds, that nobody in the Oldham team can rest on his laurels.
Roughyeds have won their last three games with a settled side, but at least one change will be forced on Naylor when the All Golds come to Whitebank on Sunday (3pm) because of hooker Danny Whitmore’s one-match suspension.
The return to fitness, after 17 weeks out, of back-row forward Liam Thompson and the signing of winger Adam Clay gives Naylor multiple choices in team selection.
Clay’s debut will be delayed for at least one week because he comes with a slight ankle problem, which requires treatment.
“We’ll soon get it sorted, but he won’t be playing on Sunday,” confirmed Naylor after last night’s training session.
Sticking to policy, he won’t reveal his hand until later, but he has intimated already that he is leaning towards playing Sam Gee at hooker and switching things round a little bit at the back of the pack and on the bench.
He has no shortage of options in that regard with Thompson, George Tyson and Mark Hobson all waiting in the wings.
Said Naylor: “The situation with ‘Whitty’ (Whitmore) gives opportunities for other players to come in and perform well.
“But the boys who have been doing well in the last few weeks also need to be on their mettle if they want to keep hold of their jerseys.
“Anybody who plays well has no need to fear, but next week ‘Whitty’ will want to come back so we have a situation in which everybody is playing for his shop.
“I don’t think anyone can feel comfortable — and that’s how it should be.”
Naylor expects a humdinger of a game against an in-form All Golds side which has beaten both York and Hunslet in recent weeks.
Oldham will be defending an unbeaten record this season at Whitebank.
The Roughyeds boss added: “This will be a tough one. They have a great coach in Steve McCormack. He has brought in some quality lads on loan and introduced a lot of structure into their game.
“After a weekend off, we need to pick up our momentum again from the start and maintain it for 80 minutes.”
All Golds will give late checks to Jarrod Ward, Isaak Duffy and Aidan Jenkins who picked up knocks in last week’s bruising battle with Hemel Stags, victors 22-14.
It was Gloucester’s second defeat in seven games since McCormack took over.
He said: “We’ll be testing ourselves against a top side, as we did against York and Hunslet. 
“Over the last few years Oldham have been the benchmark team in this division and our game against them in Cheltenham a few weeks back (Roughyeds won 30-22) was a tremendous advert for the quality of rugby in Championship One.”
* All Golds bring their under-19s team to Whitebank tomorrow (2.30) when Oldham’s under-20s will give a debut at centre to Connor Casey, son of Leo, the former Oldham prop.
The other centre, Matty Campbell from Leigh Miners, will also be on debut.
Team (from): Dempsey; Dootson, Campbell, Casey, Kavanagh, Flanagan, J Hughes, R Joy, Ball, B Roden, Turner, Hall, Mooney, Wareing, Barratt, Gilks, Buckley-Mayall, Hobson.