Luke Sutton

Date published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010

OLDHAM RL boss Tony Benson is banking on Luke Sutton becoming one of the top props in Co-operative Championship One in the coming season.

Benson pulled the big front-rower back into the Roughyeds fold last March in the firm belief that the former Keighley Cougars man’s best days were still in front of him.

Nothing has happened to change Benson’s confidence in the 24-year-old Sutton although a serious knee injury restricted him to nine appearances last term.

He has since signed a new one-year deal to cover 2011 and Benson remains convinced that, given an injury-free run, Sutton will take club and division by storm in his fourth season at Oldham.

“I’m delighted he’s signed again,” said the Kiwi coach, “because he has enormous potential. It isn’t every player who hits his peak at 21 or 22.

“The exciting thing about Luke is that, because he has been unlucky with injuries, he has so much more to offer. We’ve seen glimpses of him at his best, but I know that if he can string together a run of matches he will definitely come through as one of our top players.

“He’s big, strong and for such a big bloke he is agile, good on his feet and he has a lot of skill.”

Whitworth-based Sutton, who played most of his early rugby in Australia, joined Roughyeds originally half way through the 2008 season when Steve Deakin was coach. He made six senior appearances that year and then signed again for 2009 only to miss most of Benson’s first year in charge because of personal and family reasons.

Despite his problems, he answered Benson’s call to arms at Dewsbury on July 26 last year when the then troubled Roughyeds were struggling to find 17 men to fufil the fixture.

“Luke hadn’t played for months,” said the Oldham boss, “but he came back to help us out and in doing so he demonstrated what a great clubman he was. He had good reasons to be out of the game on compassionate grounds, but he didn’t hesitate to give us a lift when we were in trouble.”

Sutton, the club’s biggest forward at 6ft3in and 17st10lbs, has made 16 senior appearances in two and a half seasons — six in 2008, one in 2009 and nine in 2010.

He and Dave Ellison, two props coming off the bench, gave outstanding performances in a 28-16 win at Workington followed by a 40-26 triumph against Blackpool Panthers at Whitebank midway through last season.

Unluckily for Sutton it was in the Blackpool game, when he was on top of his game, that he damaged the cruciate ligament in a knee — an injury that was to restrict him to only more game all season.

“Happily, that’s all behind me now,” said Luke, a bricklayer by trade. “I’m fully fit again and I was chuffed to sign a new deal. I’m hoping for better luck on the injury front and keeping fingers crossed that 2011 will be my year.

“Things were just starting to go right for me last summer when we won well at Workington and then demolished Blackpool. But then I picked up the knee injury and it more or less finished me for the season.

“Elly (Ellison) and I are similar in size and similar in how we play. We seem to go well together. He’s signed on again as well, so that’s good.”