Hughes stars in new role

Date published: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
SCOTT Naylor is firmly of the belief that hooker Kenny Hughes can make a name for himself at Whitebank by switching roles and becoming a half-back.
When Danny Whitmore quit with a broken arm in the Gateshead game, Oldham boss Naylor threw reluctant hero Hughes in at the deep end.

He was on the bench waiting to be given a run in his usual hooking spot, but instead was asked to partner skipper Lewis Palfrey in one of the two pivotal and all-important decision-making roles at the hub of the Roughyeds’ attack.

“It was asking a lot of the lad, but I knew he could handle it,” said Naylor. “He’s looked half-back material to me from the day I first arrived at the club.”

It was the 23-year-old St Helens-born Hughes’s first run at half-back since his days as a junior with Blackbrook amateurs.

Rolling back the years, he was soon demanding the ball at first receiver, taking charge on his side of the field and urging the players outside him to form a deeper attacking line.

Then, on the half hour, he took matters into his own hands by sidestepping and swerving his way to the try that put Oldham in front for the first time.

Naylor later revealed that he identified Hughes’s half-back potential in pre-season training and talked to him then about whether he would consider a change of direction.

“Kenny preferred to take his chance as a hooker, and I respected that,” added the Oldham boss. “He might think differently now. He might start to believe that there was something in what I said.

“Apart from anything else I’ve got three good hookers, and the way Adam Files is shaping up week in and week out it would be impossible not to play him. Some of the things the kid does are unbelievable.

“If Kenny were to give serious thought about playing at half-back on a more permanent basis it would also be a way of getting him more game time.”

Whitmore’s arrival on loan was designed to fill the gap caused by Jamie Dallimore’s departure, but it’s back to square one now with Palfrey and Neil Roden as the only recognised half-backs at the club.