Heaton recognised by ‘Rugby League World’

Date published: Tuesday, August 9, 2011

BEN Heaton, Oldham RL Club’s exciting young full-back, goes into Sunday’s derby clash at Rochdale (3pm kick-off) as ‘Rugby League World’ magazine’s Championship One player of the month for July.

Eye-catching performances against Whitehaven, London Skolars, Keighley Cougars and Workington Town earned 21-year-old Heaton this prestigious accolade, which will further enhance his growing reputation.

By an odd twist of fate his next game for Roughyeds will be his sixth derby against his home-town club in two seasons  — he has been a winner each time — but his first at Spotland in the position he has now made his own.

“There’s no hiding place at full-back,” he said, “but the clash with Hornets won’t be about me, it will be about the Oldham team and how much desire we have to turn them over for the third time this season.

“It looks as though I’m type-cast as a full-back now and that’s where I’ll probably be playing for the foreseeable future, but it didn’t look as though that would be the case last season when I played in 27 of the 28 games and mainly in the forwards.”

Paul O’Connor’s departure at the end of last season changed all that. Heaton, who had started off at Roughyeds as a 17-year-old rookie full-back in the newly-formed Reserve team squad of 2008, stepped into the breach and was an instant hit.

“I hadn’t played full-back for a long time,” he added, “and it took me a while to get my head round it. But I’m loving it now and it feels good to get some ‘outside’ recognition and to get something back for all the hard work I’ve put into making the transition from forwards to full-back.

“With three games left and then the play-offs we’ve still all to play for. If we can hit the play-offs in our best form anything can happen. That’s why the next three games are so important — we must use them to get some consistency.

“We’ll probably have to do it the hard way in the play-offs, but that’s the Oldham way isn’t it — the hard way.”

Said coach Tony Benson: “Ben has been absolutely outstanding in recent weeks. I was delighted to hear he had won the award. It was the right choice, and fully deserved.”

Roughyeds, meanwhile, have postponed the fans’ forum which was scheduled for August 16 in order to specifically discuss matters relating to the Whitebank Stadium where the team has played since May last year.

The decision to put back the forum to a later date follows correspondence between club chairman Chris Hamilton and Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon, who has confirmed that he will meet with the Roughyeds chairman in the near future.

Said chairman Hamilton: “In those circumstances it is right and fair that I should meet Councillor McMahon ahead of the forum so that fans can then be made fully aware of the current situation.

“Given the importance of the club’s ground troubles, which have hindered its progress since its inception in 1997, it is absolutely vital that the council leader is made aware of all relevant facts, and that is the only reason for postponing the forum.

“Supporters can rest assured, however, that the forum will take place and hopefully soon, notwithstanding that the club acknowledges and appreciates that the council is currently dealing with many other issues.”