Hope’s silver serviceDate published: Thursday, February 4, 2016
WILL Hope’s sporting life has developed a silver lining since he signed for Oldham on deadline day last July.
As promoted Roughyeds count down to Sunday’s big Championship kick-off at home to London Broncos, dressing room banter surrounds the back-row forward’s remarkable record of celebrating three trophy triumphs in only six games for the club.
Hope (22), a former Salford junior, made his Roughyeds debut against Swinton at the end of last season and kept his place for the last two games against Oxford and Keighley, both of which clinched League One honours and trophies.
A close season followed in which he starred for Ireland in the European Championships and then he resumed silver service for Scott Naylor’s side by helping Roughyeds to beat derby rivals Rochdale and pick up the Law Cup.
It was his third pre-season game after defeat at Keighley and a 22-0 thumping of Barrow up in Cumbria.
“Six games in total . . . three trophies. The lads have ribbed me about that, but I’m not complaining, it’s great,” said Hope, who is eagerly looking forward, as are all members of the squad, to testing himself at the higher level.
In 2014, while on loan from Salford, he played 11 Championship games for Sheffield Eagles and did enough to convince Eagles and Ireland coach Mark Aston that he was good enough to play at international level.
He played against France, Scotland and Wales, but his focus right now is on preparing to give Oldham a good start to their Championship campaign against London Broncos at Bower Fold, Stalybridge on Sunday (3pm).
“I’ve played for Sheffield against the likes of Dewsbury, Halifax and Batley and I think we’ll do okay,” he said.
“We’re a closely-knit bunch. Most of the lads have been together three years and that makes a huge difference.
“I would say that man for man we’ll be a bit younger than a few of the other teams and that will help too. We’ll have a lot of fresh legs. We’ll compete with most teams — perhaps not all — in terms of speed and strength.
“I think we’ll certainly stay up and my personal belief is that we should be aiming to finish somewhere near half way.
“We’ll cause a few upsets along the way because I think we have a very good chance of doing well against some of our rivals. Against the likes of Leigh and Bradford Bulls we’ll just give it all we’ve got and see where it takes us. We’ll go in with the attitude that we’ve nothing to lose.
“We’ll be targeting wins against some of the other teams and I think we’ll be very competitive.
“From what I remember of the Championship the intensity levels in most games were similar to that in our promotion-final win over Keughley at Whitebank at the end of last season.”
The celebration jersey that Roughyeds will play in against London Broncos carries the words ‘2015 League 1 champions’ on the front and ‘League 1 Shield winners’ on the back.