Naylor looks for pride in performance

Date published: Friday, April 4, 2014
SCOTT Naylor has challenged his young Oldham players to show what they are made of against Super League opposition in Sunday’s cup-tie at Bradford Bulls.
Of the 18 players Naylor will take to the Provident Stadium only Phil Joy, Michael Ward, Alex Davidson and George Tyson have never suffered the disappointment of being released by Super League employers.
Joy and Ward joined Oldham from the local amateur game — Ward as a 16-year-old — while Davidson and Tyson are at Whitebank on season-long loan from Salford Red Devils.
At one time or another the other 14 have been politely shown the door by numerous Super League clubs, among them Salford, Leeds, St Helens, Wigan, Bradford, Widnes and London Broncos.
“A lot of my boys have been there, done it and got the T-shirt,” said the Oldham boss.¬†
“This cup-tie is all about my lads going to Bradford, testing themselves, playing to the best of their ability and showing the people who once let them go what they are made of.
“We are Championship One part-timers up against full-time Super League professionals who will be stronger, fitter, faster and more skilful.
“Our job is to go there, play the best we can and try to put them off their game.
“If my lads give it everything they’ve got, and I’m sure they will, I can’t ask for more.”
Oldham are unbeaten in three league games and a cup-tie this season, but Naylor believes his side hasn’t performed to its full potential.
He added: “We need, among other things, to be a bit tougher and more physical.
“I might change things round a bit at Bradford, go ‘big’ and go with five props.”
He used four in the 18-16 win at London Skolars last time out — Jason Boults, Ward, Joy and Paddy Mooney. A fifth, Davidson, was in the party as travelling reserve.
All five will go to the Provident Stadium, and Naylor might even use powerful second-rower Josh Crowley at prop for at least part of the game.
“He’ll start in the second-row, but I’m thinking of giving him a spell up front as well,” said Naylor.
George¬†Tyson’s reward for consistently sound performances in the under-20s side is a place in the 18.
It’s a promotion for the 20-year-old back-row forward, who is the nearest he has been to a Roughyeds’ first-team debut since he arrived at Whitebank a couple of months ago on long-term loan.
His call-up in place of teenage centre Edwin Okanga-Ajwang is the only change from the 18 who travelled to London Skolars.
From a senior squad of 23, Steven Nield and the dual-registered ‘Okanga’ are the two to miss out on the club’s big day at the Provident Stadium, given that David Cookson, Adam Files and Liam Thompson are injured.
The agreement with Salford requires the young centre to be made available for the Super League club’s under-19s side if he is not playing for Oldham.
Nield will play at full-back in the Roughyeds’ under-20s side to face York City Knights at Whitebank tomorrow, kicking off at 2.30pm.
That leaves Scott Naylor with the following 18 for a Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth-round tie against his old club which gets under way at 2pm:
Whitehead, Agoro, Wood, Bloomfield, Palfrey, Robinson, Boults, Whitmore, Ward, Crowley, Langtree, Gee, Hughes, Hobson, Mooney, Joy, Davidson, Tyson.
In finalising his line-up at training tomorrow, Naylor will have to find a replacement for Okanga-Ajwang and it would be no surprise if Sam Gee was selected at centre with Mark Hobson starting at loose-forward.
Bradford have pulled off what they describe as a “major coup” with the signing of French international prop Jamal Fakir from Catalan Dragons.
According to a report on the Bulls website, he will be in contention for a debut on Sunday in a pack which might also include former Huddersfield Giants forward Dale Ferguson.
He joined the Bulls in the close-season, but he hasn’t played since the pre-season friendly against Castleford because of a back injury.
Tom Olbison is suspended and on-loan duo Anthony Mullally and Danny Bridge are unavailable because their parent clubs don’t want them cup-tied.
Jamie Foster is fit to return after injury and youngsters Adam Brooke and Sam Bates might be thrown in at the deep end.
* Oldham under-20s (v York at Whitebank tomorrow, 2.30pm): Nield; Whitfield, Buckley-Mayall, Bickerstaff, Walker; Dempsey, Hughes; Roden, Ball, R Joy, Turner, Partington, Fitzsimmons. Subs: Wareing, Sargeant, Haney.