Neil Roden “on a learning curve”

Date published: Friday, May 9, 2014
SIX games into his first rugby league coaching job, Neil Roden has described his move from player to boss as “a real eye opener”.
He dropped the curtain on his playing career at the end of last season, bowing out with club records for most games played and most tries scored.
In two separate spells he had a total of 12 seasons at Oldham and became one of the most popular players ever to wear the Roughyeds’ jersey.
Now aged 34, and in charge of the under-20s squad at Whitebank, he says he is experiencing aspects of club life that he never knew existed.
He said: “I’m on a massive learning curve, and I do mean ‘massive’. I had no idea what was involved when I took it on, but I’m enjoying the job all the same.
“Training nights and match days are the easy bits. On other days my phone never stops ringing. Then there’s always loads of admin and form-signing to do; that was what really took me by surprise.
“I only had myself to worry about when I was a player. Now I have more than 20 players to worry about and I get to know all their problems and all their concerns.”
After losing his first five games as boss, he enjoyed a 48-6 win against Lee Crooks’s North-East Academy side at Whitebank and tomorrow he will drive the team mini-bus to Nottingham in search of another victory against Midlands Academy.
“I’ve got some great lads and we’ve been improving week by week, so I wasn’t surprised when we got our first win. It had been coming for a week or two.
“Richard Joy, who has signed pro forms, will captain the side tomorrow in the absence of Sam Singleton, who couldn’t train this week because he was studying for exams.
“I told the boys at the outset that they must always put important exams first, but they must also understand that I won’t play anybody who hasn’t trained at least once in the week of a game.
“Sam couldn’t train either night, but he said that by weekend he would be able to travel with us to Nottingham. Rules are rules though. He’s a great kid but he’s under a lot of pressure with exams so I told him to take the weekend off.”
Tom Dempsey will switch from half-back to full-back and Tom Flanagan will step up from the bench to partner Jake Hughes at half-back.
Team: Dempsey; Buckley-Mayall, Wilson, Fitzsimmons, Bickerstaff; Flanagan, Hughes; B Roden, Ball, Wareing, Partington, A Joy, R Joy (capt). Subs: Sargeant, Boardman, Barratt, Turner.
Only two over-age players are allowed in games involving the regional Academy sides and in this instance they are winger Phil Bickerstaff and prop Rhys Wareing.
The game will be played at Nottingham University’s Highfields Sports Ground, University Boulevard, Nottingham NG7 2PS. Kick-off is 2.30pm.
* Gloucester All Golds, whom Oldham visit on May 25, have appointed Scotland boss Steve McCormack as head coach to succeed New Zealander Brad Hepi, who resigned last week.
Son of a former Oldham player, McCormack has coached Salford, Whitehaven and Swinton and has also been in charge of Scotland for the last two World Cups.
Gloucester have also signed Halifax’s Miles Fairbank and Jarrod Ward on loan.