Oldham sign second new player

Date published: Thursday, October 28, 2010

OLDHAM RL Club have signed their second new boy for 2011 in 21-year-old Great Britain Students and former St Helens reserve team prop Liam Gilchrist.

Standing 6ft2in tall and weighing 16st7lbs, Gilchrist has a similar Super League scholarship and development pedigree to those of two youngsters who made a huge impact in the Roughyeds’ senior side last season —- Joe Chandler and Danny Whitmore.

Chandler, who played in every game, was a product of the Leeds Rhinos youth policy, while Whitmore, who missed only three games through injury, was groomed over a three-year period by Salford City Reds.

“Potentially, Liam has a big future, just like Joe and Danny,” said Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton. “Like them, he will have had good habits drilled into him during his formative years with a Super League club.

“I’ve had a good chat with him and he is coming to Oldham to take the next step, to learn and hopefully to be given an opportunity to experience what first-team rugby is all about.”

Gilchrist is studying for a degree in fine art at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. He lives in Billinge, between Wigan and St Helens.

He went to school in Wigan and played junior rugby for Orrell St James from the age of 13, but he was still only 14 when he was picked up by St Helens.

At Knowsley Road he went right through the system — service area, scholarship, foundation, under-18s and under-20s, while also climbing the ladder in students’ rugby, representing the North-West, England and Great Britain.

He won a Saints’ player-of-the-year award when he was 15 and only last July he was named players’ player of the tournament as England beat Ireland, Scotland and Wales in student rugby’s Home Nations tournament.

“I want to develop my game now at a higher level,” he said, “and several people said I should join Oldham because it’s a good club with a reputation for giving younger players a chance.

“I loved my years at St Helens, but they are behind me now and I intend to carry on enjoying my rugby with Oldham. Everyone I speak to assures me that Tony Benson is a good coach and that Oldham is a club where I have every chance of being happy and moving forward as a player.

“My meeting with the chairman, Chris Hamilton, clinched it. He sold the club to me with his enthusiasm and with his vision for the future.

“I’m eagerly looking forward now to the start of pre-season training.”

Gilchrist has signed a one-year deal. He follows another new signing, Andy Isherwood, into the club as countdown begins to the pre-season Law Cup clash with Rochdale Hornets at Whitebank Stadium on Sunday, January 2.