Joe back at Roughyeds

Date published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014
JOE McNicholas, who ran in the last try ever to be scored at the old Watersheddings ground, is back in Oldham Rugby circles after an absence spanning more than a decade.
Now aged 35, and preparing to launch a coaching career with NRL club Wests Tigers in Sydney, he has linked up with his former Roughyeds team mate Neil Roden to help out with the under-20s squad at Whitebank for the remainder of this season.
The former winger, one of the few to play for both Oldham Bears and Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd, will return to Australia in September, this time permanently, but not before he has spent the next five months back at the club where he planted his rugby roots.
“It’s great to be back and working alongside Neil again,” said Joe, whose playing career was just starting when the Bears went bust in 1997.
He scored the winning try against Swinton Lions in a specially-arranged friendly to mark the closure of Watersheddings in January, 1997 and played his one and only competitive game at senior level as an 18-year-old in the Bears’ final game at Leeds in September that year.
Three months later he signed for the ‘new’ Oldham club as a free agent and over the next six seasons he played in 106 games, scoring 36 tries.
Since then, he has spent a lot of time in Sydney, forging close links with the coaching staff at Wests and becoming firm friends with Aussie half-back Daniel Brown, who played for Roughyeds in the 1999 season.
He has asked Brown’s elder brother Nathan, currently head coach of St Helens, to be his mentor as he seeks to acquire an English level 2 coaching qualification at Dewsbury in June.
If successful that will qualify him to work towards an NRL senior club coaching certificate in Sydney next January and set him on the path towards a full-time coaching career in Australia.
With that in mind he will emigrate later this year with his wife Liz and children Faith (5) and Jaegan (3).
He added: “Over the last few years I’ve learned a lot at Wests and I’m really looking forward to giving Neil (Roden) a lift over the next few months.
“It needs at least two heads and two voices to get the best out of a full squad of players. Neil was looking for somebody to help him out and it will be more experience for me too.”
Said Roden, who is in his first coaching job: “Joe will be a big help. We played in the same team in the early days of the ‘new’ club. His work with Wests Tigers has fired his ambition to make a full-time career out of coaching.
“It will be great to have him on board for the rest of the season.”