Josh set for 30 not out

Date published: Thursday, April 10, 2014
WHEN Scott Naylor was appointed Oldham’s head coach in the autumn of 2012 his first signing was a little-known youngster from Widnes Vikings who had never played in senior rugby.
Just turned 21, and having been at Warrington before trying his luck at Widnes, Josh Crowley was determined to show he still had plenty to offer to rugby league — and Naylor’s powers of persuasion did the rest.
That same Josh Crowley has never looked back.
As a forceful second-row forward, he’s played in every Oldham game since he made his debut in last season’s opener, a Northern Rail Cup defeat at North Wales Crusaders on March 3, 2013.
That’s 29 appearances in a row — 19 wins, two draws and eight losses.
Of players at Championship One clubs only David March of Hunslet Hawks can match that, yet only one behind on 28 is Crowley’s Oldham team mate Dale Bloomfield.
“Both Josh and Dale are very consistent,” said Naylor, while getting ready for two league games in five days against Gateshead Thunder at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm) and Hunslet Hawks away on Good Friday (2pm).
“Josh was outstanding last year considering he came straight out of academy rugby. He’s kicked-on and is even better this time round.
“He’s filled out and he is stronger this year — and I see no reason why he can’t go on and play Championship rugby or, maybe, even Super League.
“Dale is one of the jokers of the team. He’s also a good lad to have around; very good at his job and a player who rarely makes a mistake.”
On Sunday they face a Gateshead side which has the division’s joint top try scorer this season in Chris Heil, whose five tries is matched only by Gloucester’s Danny Thomas and York’s Jonny Presley.
By forging links with RU club Newcastle Falcons and appointing Stanley Gene as head coach, Thunder believe they can look forward to a bright future.
One of the sport’s real characters, Gene had a 13-year playing career with Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and both Hull clubs after coming to this country from his native Papua New Guinea in 1997.
He captained PNG in the 2008 World Cup and played for his country 25 times.
As a coach, he has had stints in charge of PNG and he was an integral part of Hull KR’s coaching and backroom team before swopping Humberside for Tyneside.
Away from the game, he founded the Stanley Gene Foundation, a charity that helps sick children and others in need in PNG’s rural settlements and villages.