HAVING signed a new one-year deal, Michael Ward is gearing up for his sixth season with Oldham RL in 2013 , , , and he’s still only 21.
He was 16 when he first played for the reserves on the wing.
Five years on he has proved himself at first-team level — 19 senior appearances last season at centre and second-row — and he is a player in whom new head coach Scott Naylor has high hopes.
Naylor has only watched him play on DVD, but it was sufficient for the man who played 159 Super League games as a centre to recognise the potential of the young Oldhamer.
Said the Roughyeds’ boss: “I had identified Wardy as one of the players I wanted to keep, so I am delighted he has signed a new contract.
“He is a good, young prospect whom I expect to kick on now, to learn more under the new coaching regime at the club and to fulfil his true potential.”
Ward’s signing takes the squad to 17 in number, but of last season’s first-team regulars he is only the fifth to be contracted so far for 2013 after Neil Roden, Jamie Dallimore, Liam Gilchrist and Jason Boults.
The other 12 are either new to the club or promoted from the reserves on senior contracts for the first time.
Ward, a trainee maths teacher at Cardinal Langley, Middleton, was never in any doubt about re-signing after extensive talks with both Naylor and club chairman Chris Hamilton.
He said: “My aspiration is to play in the next division higher up in 2014 and I would love it to be with Oldham.
“I had extremely positive talks with Chris and Scott. The club is moving in the right direction and I am pleased to be part of it.
“Scott was honest and open with me. I want to play for a coach who will tell me straight what I’m doing wrong as well as what I’m doing right. It is very important, I think, for any coach to be able to do that.
“Nobody is perfect and there are certainly things I need to work on.”