‘Reluctant hero’ puts pen to paper

Date published: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
RELUCTANT hero Kenny Hughes has joined 13 other members of last season’s Oldham RL squad to commit to Roughyeds for another year.

It takes to 17 the number of signings announced by the club, which has also recruited new boys Paddy Mooney, Brett Robinson and Danny Whitmore.

Hughes (23), who has played hooker all his career, filled in as a stop-gap half-back over the second half of last season while never feeling totally comfortable in that key pivotal role.

He operated on the left-hand side of the attack, performing a similar function to that carried out by skipper Lewis Palfrey on the right.

He has signed a new one-year contract after talks with coach Scott Naylor in which he reaffirmed his preference for the hooking position.

Said assistant coach Lee Spencer: “Kenny played for much of last season out of position and it takes a lot of bottle to step into such a key role when it’s not one he particularly likes.

“He did a good job for us in difficult circumstances, putting the team’s requirements before his own playing preferences.

“He’s a good footballer — that’s why he could do the half-back job for us — and on top of that he’s tough and aggressive defensively for his size.”

Roughyeds began last season with three recognised half-backs in Palfrey, Jamie Dallimore and veteran campaigner Neil Roden.

Dallimore was released in April after insisting he wanted to go and Roden couldn’t command a regular place in the team after the home defeat by Oxford at the end of that month.

Danny Whitmore arrived from Batley on loan to partner Palfrey at half-back, but in his second game he broke an arm.

Next in came Anthony Bowman from Halifax, also on loan, but he survived only two games as well before departing with a shoulder injury.

It was left to Hughes, one of the club’s three hookers alongside Sam Gee and long-term loanee Adam Files, to come to the rescue over the ten remaining games, including the play-offs.

Said Hughes: “Half-back wasn’t a position I was used to, but I got on with the job to the best of my ability, just happy to be in the side.

“I’ve spoken to Scott (Naylor) about next season and as Danny Whitmore and Brett Robinson have now arrived he will regard me more as a hooker again and that suits me fine.

“He knows I’d like to take my chance at hooker and fight for my place there.”

Once a youngster at St Helens, like Danny Langtree, Hughes will be in his fourth season at Oldham, having spent two seasons in the reserves before earning promotion to the first-team squad to coincide with the arrival of Naylor and Spencer this time last year.

He has played for Oldham in play-off finals in each of his three years at Whitebank, the first two in the reserves (one win, one defeat).