Neil Roden

Date published: Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MASTER craftsman Neil Roden, Oldham RL Club’s cultured midfield pivot, has turned down Keighley Cougars to sign a new one-year contract with the Roughyeds.

The 30-year-old stand-off, who has made a club record 250 appearances, was seriously tempted by the Cougars offer, but eventually decided that “home is where the heart is.”

He said: “It was a close call. I played alongside Keighley boss Barry Eaton at Batley and I have a lot of time for him. He also offered me a very good deal.

“It was a tough decision, but I had a few chats with Chris Hamilton (Oldham chairman) and I took time to weigh up the pros and cons. I am very contented now and confident that I have made the right decision.

“At this stage of my career I don’t want to play anywhere other than at Oldham. I’ve been happy at the club in two separate spells spanning ten years.

“I would like to end my career at Whitebank. I’m planning to play for two more seasons and I’ve set myself a couple of goals —- to chalk up 300 games for Roughyeds and to enjoy promotion celebrations.

“I’ve signed for one more year, but if all goes well and they still want me for 2012 I’d like to aim for 300 games before hanging up my boots.”

Roden joined Oldham as a 19-year-old in 2000. He spent four and a half seasons at the club, then had two seasons away before returning for the start of the 2007 campaign.

He added: “As I get older I have to train harder to maintain my fitness levels, but I’m happy to do that. I know what needs to be done.

“I’m looking forward to the new season, which will be my tenth in Oldham colours. I think there will be more expectation this year than there was last, but we are building a good squad and I don’t think the club has finished its recruiting yet.

“They seem to be going for more young Oldham lads, like they did last year, and I think that’s the right way to go. The local boys did brilliantly last season”

Roden’s decision to stay came as no surprise to coach Tony Benson.

He said: “I always felt Neil would be with us again. He didn’t want to go anywhere else, although one or two clubs were interested — not just Keighley.

“He is a key part of our club. We saw what happened last year on the odd occasions he didn’t play. He has been working hard through the off season with his cousin Martin Roden (assistant coach and conditioner) and I know he is setting out his stall to have another big year in 2011.

“It would have been a huge loss if he had gone, but we had no cause to have too many concerns. Oldham is his club. He’s very loyal and supportive.

“He is one of the leading players in the division, but he is also a good person to have around. He has a cool head in a crisis.”