Heaton stays on for 2011

Date published: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BEN Heaton is the first product of the youth policy launched by Oldham RL Club in 2008 to sign his second professional contract with the Roughyeds.

Play-anywhere Heaton, top gun in the reserve team of 2009, established himself as a first-team regular in 2010 and became a firm favourite of the Whitebank crowd.

He has now repaid the faith Roughyeds showed in him when offering the young unknown a two-year deal for 2009 and 2010 by putting pen to paper on a new one-year contract for 2011.

“It’s always pleasing to see a boy come through the ranks and then stick with us,” said chairman Chris Hamilton. “Ben did extremely well last season, not only to play in nearly every senior game but to show that he could handle two or three different positions.

“Everyone at the club is now looking forward to seeing him kick-on again in 2011, having completed his first full season of senior rugby while still so young.”

A Rochdale boy, Heaton made his senior debut as a 19-year-old at Dewsbury in July, 2009, coming off the bench to replace the injured Paul O’Connor at full-back in a depleted Roughyeds side.

He was a shock selection at right-centre in a play-off game at the end of that season, but he scored a gem of a try early on — his first in senior rugby — and helped Roughyeds to a 44-14 win.

Now aged 20, he figured in all but one of Oldham’s 28 games in cup and league in the season just ended, scoring six tries and playing in several different roles.

He made 14 starts, at loose-forward, second-row and right-centre, and 13 appearances off the bench, which included spells also at full-back and on the wing.

“I don’t mind really where I play,” said Ben, an apprentice joiner with a Rochdale firm. “You tend to get more ball at full-back, but I like playing second-row as well and that’s more defensive. I’m not fussed. Just bring it on.

“It’s nice to have a break, but now I can’t wait for pre-season training to start again in a few weeks.

“Last season was great . . . until the Grand Final. Up to then I had loved every minute of my first full season at that level and I think I learned a lot.

“Hopefully, we will go one better next season and finish top of the pile so that we don’t need to be involved in the play-offs. I’m sure that will be the plan.”

Roughyeds now have seven first-team players under contract for 2011 — Johnny Walker, Jason Boults, Dave Ellison, John Gillam, Martin Roden, Heaton and new boy Andy Isherwood.