Hughes lands Ireland job

Date published: Friday, October 18, 2013

OLDHAM RL Club’s fitness expert Mike Hughes will be Ireland’s head conditioning coach in the forthcoming World Cup.

Hughes (26), who also works for Roughyeds’ link club Salford City Reds, was assisting England until it emerged that Ireland’s top fitness guru had gone down injured.

Said Hughes: “I didn’t want to burn my bridges with England, but they told me a head-of-department job with Ireland was an opportunity not to be missed.

“I was interviewed by Sheffield Eagles boss Mark Aston, Ireland’s head coach, and offered the job the next day.”

Oldham coach Scott Naylor has often acknowledged that Hughes is a valued member of the Roughyeds’ backroom team, whose work on fitness, nutrition and healthy living was key to much of what the squad achieved last season.

He will do a similar job with an Ireland squad, based at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, which includes Oldham-born Eamonn O’Carroll of Widnes Vikings and Marc Sneyd of Castleford Tigers as well as former Roughyeds forward David Allen (Widnes).

Ireland are in group A with Fiji, England and Australia and open up their campaign against Fiji at Spotland (Rochdale) on Monday, October 28 (8pm).

Oldham chief Chris Hamilton, meanwhile, has lauded the first year’s work of coaches Naylor and Lee Spencer ahead of the club’s end-of-season dinner and awards ceremony at Whitebank tomorrow night.

In building a new, young squad from scratch and guiding Roughyeds to Championship One runners-up, they did a “fantastic” job, said the chairman.

He added: “Scott was brought in to do a specific job in terms of changing the dressing room psyche and mentality and he did that without any shadow of doubt.

“There has been a lot of close-season interest in our players, but we are working hard to make sure we keep the majority of last season’s squad together.

“I think the quality of our new signings also makes it fairly obvious what our intentions are in 2014.”