John Clough backs Roughyeds to be a force in 2011

Date published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

OLDHAM RL new boy John Clough is tipping Roughyeds to be a force in Co-operative Championship One this season on the back of graft and grunt.

Tough pre-season training schedules over the past ten weeks will end soon, ahead of the big kick-off against Hunslet Hawks at Whitebank on Sunday week, February 6 in the Northern Rail Cup.

Clough says the Roughyeds’ demanding preparatory work, under the supervision of conditioner and assistant coach Martin Roden, will serve the squad well in the hard NRC round-robin games against Championship sides Hunslet and Halifax, big-spending Championship One outfit Swinton Lions and Whitehaven.

The 26-year-old former Salford, Leigh and Blackpool No 9 — Panthers’ player of the year in 2010 — knows he is competing with Martin Roden, Danny Whitmore and Scott Mansfield for the role of Roughyeds’ principal hooker.

“A few of us were rested last Sunday,” he said, “but the lads who did turn out came up with a great performance in the 50-0 defeat of Whitehaven. That shows the depth we have in the squad.

“I don’t know whether it was Whitehaven’s strongest side but they’ve been tipped to be there or thereabouts this year and to beat them like we did has to be extremely encouraging.

“We’ve had a couple of good results in pre-season and everything is building nicely towards the game against Hunslet at Whitebank a week on Sunday.

“The NRC games are important, but the main focus is on the league and hopefully we will continue to get stronger and stronger over the next few weeks so that we hit the ground running when Championship One starts in March.

“We’ve been working on a lot of things in training and they all came together in the Whitehaven game.

“We’ve rolled up our sleeves and grafted over the pre-season programme — and we are determined to keep working hard because we know we will get our rewards on the pitch.”

Clough now feels at home at Whitebank, and he believes Roughyeds can make it a fortress.

“A lot of teams won’t be used to the hill,” he added, “and that should work in our favour. It’s also advantageous to have our fans so close to the pitch.”

Matthew Fogarty, baby of the squad at 18, got head coach Tony Benson’s call three weeks ago to join the seniors for training and he has since played in two pre-season outings, scoring his first try for the club against Whitehaven.

He echoed Clough’s observation that training was tough — but good. “I’ve found it very hard,” he said. “It’s been just as tough as it was in my Salford days, but I’ve enjoyed it, and it was brilliant to get my first try last Sunday.

“It took me two or three training sessions to get to know all the other lads and to feel at home with the first team, but I felt a lot more comfortable last Sunday.

“I don’t know when I’ll get picked again, but I can’t wait.”