Props give Scott a boost

Date published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
OLDHAM were given five good reasons at training last night for going into Sunday’s big game against North Wales at Whitebank in confident mood.

Four of them related to the availability of prop-forwards — key workers in any successful side.

It emerged that:

* NATHAN MASON will probably be here until the end of the season although his initial 28-day loan period has now expired.

* JASON BOULTS, out for several weeks with a broken finger, has been cleared to play and is available for selection.

* LIAM GILCHRIST has recovered from a calf-muscle strain that he picked up in the first few minutes of the Gateshead away game a month ago.

* MATTHEW HAGGARTY, who took a knock in a heavy tackle against South Wales Scorpions last time out, is fully fit and ready to go again.

Adding to the good news on men in the engine room, came clearance also for winger Dale Bloomfield, who hurt a wrist in the South Wales game.

It was feared initially that he might have suffered a fracture, but the fears were unfounded and he trained normally last night.

Said coach Scott Naylor: “The squad benefited from having a few days off and that was evident from the way they trained the house down.

“The players are all looking forward to the game, but it’s going to be tough to put a team together because of the number of options. There are going to be some disappointed boys, but I can only pick 17.”

The situation surrounding Mason is this. He came initially for the minimum 28 days under RFL legislation, during which time his parent club, in this case Huddersfield Giants, could not recall him.

Giants have no problem with him staying here beyond the four weeks, but he is no longer locked into the loan move.

They could pull him back at any time now, but having discussed and debated the situation with Giants boss Paul Anderson, Naylor is happy to proceed.

It means he will have six prop forwards to choose from —- Boults, Gilchrist, Haggarty, Phil Joy, Mason and Michael Ward — in a bid to counter the dangerous Jono Smith and Ryan Macdonald.

Joy and Ward have shouldered much of the workload in recent weeks, during which time they have enhanced their growing reputations.

Naylor will have big decisions to make about his middle unit, while he also ponders the claims of new signing Tom Whitehead, who is said to be equally competent at full-back, stand-off, hooker or loose-forward.

Whitehead has been added to the first-team squad and, perhaps significantly, is not included in the under-20s side to play York City Knights away tomorrow (Thurs), 8pm kick off.

Under-20s: Halsall; Whitfield, Ravenscroft, R Ward, Parsonage; Foreman, Singleton; Hall, Ball, Sherratt, Bradley, Rasool, A Joy. Subs: Wareing, R Joy, Fitzsimmons, Dyson.