Gillam re-signs for 2011

Date published: Monday, October 4, 2010

WINGER John Gillam will be back with Oldham Rugby League Club in 2011 — and he hopes most members of the squad will follow suit and re-sign.

“I hope most of us stick together for another year,” said 25-year-old Gillam, whose performances on the Roughyeds’ left wing in his debut season with the club have earned him a first-time place in Ireland’s squad for the forthcoming Alitalia European Championships.

He flies to France tomorrow (Tues) with the Irish squad for Saturday’s clash with the French at Avignon, secure in the knowledge that he has a new one-year Roughyeds contract under lock and key.

The former Oldham St Anne’s flier, a teaching assistant at Saddleworth School, played for both Hornets RL and Blackpool Panthers before getting his chance to play for his hometown club a year ago.

It was a move that surpassed expectations. Said John: “To sign for another year was a no-brainer. I enjoyed it at Oldham so much. Despite the Grand Final disappointment — I still can’t understand why we played so badly — we had a great season and I just want to stick with Roughyeds next year to have a crack at automatic promotion. We don’t want any more Grand Finals.

“We have the best set of lads I’ve ever worked with and I’ve also enjoyed working for Tony (head coach Benson). I spoke to Chris (chairman Hamilton) about next year and I was delighted to put pen to paper for another season.”

Gillam scored 16 tries in 19 games overall last season but, more significantly, 15 in 17 after returning from a shoulder injury which kept him out of nine games early in the season.

He is the fourth member of the senior squad to sign following props Jason Boults and Dave Ellison and young back-row man Johnny Walker.

“John performed well all season,” said chairman Hamilton, “and we are delighted to get it wrapped up quickly. He has had a good season, topped off by his selection for Ireland.”

Also in the Ireland squad are Gillam’s Oldham team mates Marcus St Hilaire and Wayne Kerr as well as Gregg McNally, who was on loan to the Roughyeds for much of last season. Oldham boss Benson is Irish coach Andy Kelly’s No 2.

Benson said Gillam had made huge forward strides during his first year with his hometown club.

He added: “John came to us originally to sign for the reserves, backing himself to make the step up. He did that quickly and once he got back after a shoulder injury he held the left-wing spot all year.

“He’s quick; he scored plenty of good tries; and he developed as the season went on. There is still a lot more to come from him, but his selection for Ireland is fully-deserved recognition.

“He contributed much, on and off the field. He is a smart young man who conducts himself well. He is the type of local player we are always looking for.”