Luke Sutton

Date published: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

by ROGER HALSTEAD

TONY Benson has pulled big prop Luke Sutton back into the Roughyeds’ fold in the firm belief that the former Keighley front-rower’s best days lie ahead of him.

Rochdale-based Sutton 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 those, he willingly and voluntarily 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.

Rob Roberts had left the club a couple of weeks earlier and when James Coyle, David Allen, Andy Ballard and Danny Halliwell moved out to join Barrow in a sudden and unexpected exit, Benson was left scratching for a side.

“Luke hadn’t played for months,” said Oldham’s Kiwi boss, “but he came back to help us out and in doing so he demonstrated what a great clubman he was. He had very real and very 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.

“Early that season he was outstanding in the Reserves. He was good on defence; he worked hard for long periods; and on attack he showed he possessed a good offload.

“At that time it was difficult for him to break into the first-team because we had some of the front-row men we have now as well as Paul Highton and Richard Mervill.”

The 24-year-old Sutton, who has signed a new Oldham deal to the end of the season, stands 6ft3in tall and weighs 17st10lbs.

He will be competing for a senior spot with Jason Boults, Wayne Kerr, Dave Ellison, Ben Mellor and Jamie I’Anson.

“That gives us a nice blend of youth and experience up front and I know that Luke will fit very well indeed into the environment we are now building and developing at the club.”

Sutton is hoping to make an impact at the third time of asking followng his six senior appearances in 2008 and his one — at Dewsbury — in 2009.

He said: “I’m ready to return to the club and make a real fist of it. I’ve trained a couple of times with the squad. There are a lot of new faces from last year, but they are a great set of lads and they have made a terrific start to the league campaign.”

That 38-8 defeat at Dewsbury last year might yet prove a defining moment in the rebirth of the Roughyeds, given that the then unknown Ben Heaton made his debut off the bench alongside Martin Roden, the club’s fitness conditioner who came out of retirement to answer Benson’s plea for help.

Heaton is now one of several up-and-coming youngsters who are starring in a winning side while hooker Roden is currently leading the team as one of its most influential midfield playmakers.

Heaton celebrated his 20th birthday last Friday by getting knocked out in the first half of the Roughyeds’ 29-16 win at Hunslet. He had fully recovered in the dressing room by the time the game was over when his team mates toasted him — and soaked him — in orange juice!