Now “Wardy” signs new deal

Date published: Thursday, October 30, 2014
AS the old saying goes, it’s good to talk.
But Michael Ward didn’t think so when other clubs wanted to approach the then out-of-contract Oldham forward about his plans for next season.
“I decided not to talk to anybody else because Oldham is the club I want to play for. I’m very happy at the club,” explained the 23-year-old prop, who first put on a Roughyeds jersey as a 16-year-old winger in John Hough’s reserves side.
He’s been part of the Roughyeds scene ever since — and he’s going to be around for a whole lot longer after becoming the latest member of last season’s squad to extend his stay at Whitebank by signing a new one-year contract.
With five clubs coming down from the Championship, market forces have raised the bar on players’ pay expectations at each of the 14 clubs which will compete in the new Kingstone Press League One.
Several Oldham men who have already agreed new deals were also courted by other clubs — a clear indication that Roughyeds are more than holding their own in the new market place.
By re-signing Ward, they have kept hold of a player described by coach Scott Naylor as “one of our best forwards last season.”
He added: “Coming off the bench, ‘Wardy’ made a massive impact. He played himself on to the bench because of how well he performed when he came off it, if that makes sense.
“We’re a 17-man game now and it worked well for us to have a strong bench from which ‘Wardy’ played a huge and very important role.
“He’s played a lot of first-team rugby now (nearly 70 games going back to 2011), but there’s still more to come from him and next season he needs to kick-on and take his game to the next level.”
Maths teacher Ward, who has played in every position in the pack bar hooker, sees himself as a prop now and expects to be used in the front-row again next season.
“I don’t think I’ll be going back to the wing,” he quipped, tongue in cheek, then added: “I like to play in the middle and get involved.
“It’s a while now since I played in the back-row and Scott (Naylor) likes me to play prop so I’m sure that’s where I’ll be playing again next season.
“That suits me fine, and I don’t mind coming off the bench, either. I’m happy to start games as well, but it suited the balance of the side for me to play as a substitute, and I’ve got to say I think I prefer that now I’ve got used to it.
“We were all desperately disappointed to lose the Grand Final by one point in extra time, but you gain nothing from dwelling on the past.
“We’ve got to look ahead to next season. It should be a fantastic division.”