MARK Brocklehurst gets ready for comeback

Date published: Thursday, March 1, 2012

MARK Brocklehurst may have his first game of the season for Oldham RL Club in Sunday’s tough Northern Rail Cup clash at Keighley Cougars (2pm kick off).

He was the Roughyeds’ top try scorer with 17 in 23 games last year, but at season’s end he switched codes to play for Oldham RU Club only to break a thumb in one of his early appearances.

He hasn’t played since, but he has been back training with Tony Benson’s squad for several weeks.

Mark Brocklehurst

Benson had planned to bring him back in a reserve team pre-season game, but the club has not been able to arrange one so utility back Brocklehurst is in the running to go straight into the senior side at Cougar Park.

Not only is it important for him to get a run-out before the opening Championship One game at Workington on the following Sunday, but he could be required anyway because of injury doubts over Matthew Fogarty, Mark McCully and Paul Ballard.

McCully and Ballard, both knee injuries, didn’t play in last Sunday’s NRC clash with Dewsbury Rams, an exciting 30-28 win for the Yorkshiremen in which teenager Fogarty hobbled off with ankle trouble.

Benson might also make changes in the forwards to include the experienced Paul Noone in the starting line-up for the first time and to consider a recall for 34-year-old Paul Smith, who has missed the last two games because he has been away working.

A fitness verdict on Valu Bentley, who was hurt in the 36-36 draw in South Wales, will also be relevant in terms of Benson’s final selection.

Though Oldham are unlikely to qualify for the last eight, chairman Chris Hamilton has stressed how important it is for Benson’s men to put up a good show against their Championship opponents.

He said: “There is a big requirement for the players to produce a positive performance, and they know it.

“It will be a tough test, but we go to Workington in the opening league game only seven days later, and you can’t turn form on and off like a tap.”

Roughyeds will wear their new 2012 away kit for the first time. It features similar colours to last year’s jersey, but with a different design.

Fans are reminded that the game starts an hour earlier than usual at 2pm because of a problem with the Cougar Park floodlights.

Seats on a supporters’ coach from the Junction Inn, Ripponden Road must be booked by ten o’clock tonight (0161 633 2759).

The Supporters’ Association (ORSA) holds its agm at Whitebank tonight (7.30), followed by a normal monthly meeting.