Naylor lauds new signings

Date published: Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SCOTT Naylor has explained the rationale for promotion-chasing Oldham’s deadline-day signings of Elliot Liku and Will Hope.

They come in to bolster his top-of-the-league squad which can no longer call on dual-reg players from link club Huddersfield Giants.
Such players can only turn out for one club after the deadline — and because they have injury worries as they look ahead to the Super 8s, Giants won’t risk any of their up-and-coming youngsters being tied to Oldham for the remainder of the season.
In cup and league, Naylor has used seven young Giants players, making between them a total of 35 appearances, nearly half of them by on-loan Nathan Mason, who was recalled by his full-time employers three weeks ago.
Hence Naylor’s moves for forwards Liku, a 19-year-old prop from Leigh Centurions, who has also come on loan to the end of the season, and 22-year-old back-row man Hope, a free agent whom the Oldham boss has been chasing for several months.
Said Naylor: “I tried to sign Will last year when he left Salford, but he wanted some time out, like Adam Neal did before we signed him.
“However, he’s been looking to get back into the game for a while, and I’ve been talking to him on and off behind the scenes for the past couple of months.
“He comes from a Super League club with all the attributes you need. I rate him highly.
“He’s been playing amateur rugby and keeping himself fit so after a couple of weeks of training with us he’ll be ready to go.
“If we see the same Will Hope as the one who left Salford we’ve got ourselves a very good player indeed.
“Three clubs in our division were chasing him when he left Salford, plus another two in the Championship.
“We’ve done well to get a player of his calibre and the fact that he’s chosen to come to Oldham is a feather in the club’s cap. It says a lot about the club that we can attract players like Will.”
Naylor has known Liku since he was a boy and is a friend of his father, Tau, a former Tongan international, who lives near the Naylor household in Leigh.
“I’ve watched Elliot grow up,” said the Oldham boss. “I know him very well.
“He propped against us in a pre-season friendly. He got the man-of-the-match award.
“He’s captain of Leigh’s second team. He’s ready to make the step up to senior level and I have every confidence in the lad to do a good job for us.
“We’re on the last leg of the season and we badly needed another prop. We only had four and that puts us right on the border line.
“We need five at least going into the business end of the season with six league games left and then at least one play-off game, if not more.
“With five props I can rotate four from five and one of them can always have a rest. Elliot’s arrival will enable me to do that, and I think it’s important.”