Owen “hooked” in latest signing

Date published: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
A KEY man in the spine of any rugby league team is the hooker and Oldham have THREE accomplished No 9s following Gareth Owen’s capture on a one-year contract.
Oldham-born Owen (22), who played for his home-town club on loan from Salford Red Devils in the final eight games of last season, is the latest addition to a tasty-looking squad that Scott Naylor expects to do well in the new, 14-club League One next season.
Owen joins Kenny Hughes and Adam Files in a triumvirate of good hookers which will give Naylor rich pickings in a highly-specialised pivotal role.
“All three are quality hookers and each will be under pressure to make the team on a week-to-week basis,” said the Oldham boss.
Roughyeds moved smartly for Moorside-based Owen when Salford released him, just as they did for his Red Devils colleague George Tyson.
The hooker will be one of the¬†youngest members of Naylor’s new squad but, having played in 36 Super League games, he has loads of experience of playing at the highest level of the domestic game.
Of the signings announced so far only new-boy Adam Neal, with 45, has played more Super League games than Owen.
“We’re good mates,” said Owen. “We’ve played in the same Salford pack many times. Adam will be a great signing.
“I’m really happy to have signed, even though it will be a huge change to go from full-time rugby and into the world of real work for the first time.
“I’m hoping to get a decent job, but I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to being a contracted Oldham player.
“As soon as I found out I was being released by Salford my thoughts immediately turned to Oldham because I enjoyed my rugby so much with the Roughyeds towards the end of last season while I was on loan.
“I didn’t even look or think about going anywhere else once I knew that Scott (Naylor) wanted to sign me.
“A lot of the League One clubs are strengthening, but so are we. It looks like being a cracking division.”
Naylor revealed he had been chasing Owen for a while before he finally arrived at Whitebank on loan in time to make his debut in the thrilling 24-23 win over Hunslet at the end of July.
Added Oldham’s team boss: “As we knew he would, he added a lot of speed and verve to our middle unit.
“One of his many strengths is his speed from dummy half. Playing off a good pack of forwards, he slipped easily into our structures.
“Salford’s decision to let him go was our gain and in my opinion it will work out very much in our favour.”