OLDHAM Rugby League Club have promoted reserve-team hooker Kenny Hughes to the senior squad and handed him a one-year contract.
Hughes (22), who was previously at Super League club St Helens, has been rewarded for playing consistently well in Oldham’s second team over the last season and a half.
Of the players already under contract for 2013 he is the fifth to come up through the reserves, behind Jamie Dallimore, Danny Langtree, Phil Joy and Liam Gilchrist.
“I’ve been given a chance by Oldham and I intend to grab it,” said Hughes, who won Lancashire and BARLA Great Britain honours at under-19 level before joining Saints where he was coached by Mike Rush and Ian Talbot.
He added: “I know I’ve a lot of work ahead of me, but I’ll get my head down. I’m joining the senior squad at an exciting time — with lots of new players and a new coach (Scott Naylor) — and I can’t wait to be part of it.
“I’ll strive hard to get my shot in the first team, and once I’ve got it I’ll want to keep it.
“I’m a window fitter by trade, but I’m out of work at the moment and that will allow me to train on my own during the day in addition to the pre-season work we’ll be doing as a squad in the evenings.
“Since I’ve been at Oldham I’ve played in two consecutive play-off finals for the reserves, so I’ve known some success and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t continue at first-team level.”
While at St Augustine’s school in St Helens, Hughes played alongside his Oldham team mate Danny Langtree in three Carnegie Championship Schools grand finals, one of them at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff.
Outside school, he played first for Blackbrook and later for Thatto Heath where he was spotted by St Helens and invited to Knowsley Road.
“I played my heart out for Saints,” he added, “but I lost my place in the reserves when Kyle Eastmond returned after a suspension, and I didn’t like it.
“My mate Danny (Langtree) had already moved from Saints to Oldham and he was urging me to join him at Whitebank.
“I asked Saints if they would dual-register me with Oldham, but they didn’t want to do that, so I decided to take my chance at Whitebank and I have never regretted my decision.”
Said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton: “Kenny is under no illusions about what he needs to do in order to successfully make the step up from reserves to first team. It’s a big leap.
“Like others before him, he has earned his shot at the higher level. It’s up to him now.”
The turnover of players at Whitebank continued when prop Jamie Acton left to sign for promoted Workington Town.
The young Londoner, who was previously at Wigan Warriors, gave two impressive performances against the Cumbrians at the end of last season and made a big impact at Derwent Park.
Said Town official Mark Fyrer: “Jamie had a big season at Oldham and Town’s players will testify to what a handful he was in the games against us.”