Roberts in squad on dual regDate published: Friday, June 19, 2015
DUAL-REG forward Oliver Roberts has been added to Oldham’s squad for Sunday’s short trip to Sedgley Park and the League One derby with Swinton Lions.
The 20-year-old Huddersfield Giants back-row man, who has scored two tries in his three previous games for Oldham this season, was a non-playing member of the Giants’ 19-man squad for last week’s home win against Warrington Wolves in Super League.
Before signing for Giants at the end of last season, Halifax-born Roberts made five Super League appearances for Bradford Bulls — two in 2013 and three in 2014 — after winning England honours at youth level.
Tall and rangy, he has looked good at centre on a couple of occasions when asked to play there by Oldham boss Scott Naylor due to team reshuffles caused by injury.
By acquiring Roberts’s services on dual registration and signing 19-year-old St Helens stand-off David Hewitt on loan, Naylor has 21 available players to choose from —- the 17 who whacked Oxford 64-0 plus Jon Ford, Michael Ward, Hewitt and Roberts.
Ford’s return from a knee injury sooner than expected is another bonus, but Naylor won’t name his 17 until later, nor will he shed any light on the prospects of teenager Hewitt being given his debut against an in-form pride of Lions who will be chasing their fifth league win in a row.
They last lost a league game at Rochdale on May 9, a week before they beat league leaders Keighley at home (29-16) —- the only setback thus far to the Cougars’ ambitions of finishing top in memory of their fallen hero Danny Jones.
“It’s going to be a ‘chop and change’ division in the second half of the season,” said Oldham boss Naylor, referring to a league ladder in which the top eight sides are split by only five points.
“All eight will be battling to finish in the top five for play-off qualification.
“It will all hinge eventually on how many points a club gains from wins against others in the top eight.
“I don’t think any club will win them all, but all you can do is soldier on and try to win as many as possible.
“Swinton will be thinking on similar lines.
“They’ve got loads of very experienced players — Jordan James, Mick Govin and Stuart Littler to name but three — and they’ve got two wingers and a full-back who work really hard on kick returns to put the opposition on the back foot.
“Ritchie Hawkyard, at full-back, is one of the best in the division on his kick returns, while Ben White, at scrum-half, has been scoring loads of tries and playing exceptionally well.
“If we have decent conditions we can have a good go at each other and see what happens. It should be wide open.”
SWINTON (from): Atkin, R Hawkyard, Robinson, Littler, Ball, Aaronson, White, Lloyd, James, Ackers, Austin, Beecham, Barlow, Lever, Gallagher, Thornley, D Hawkyard, Holden, Govin.
OLDHAM (from): Dempsey, Clay, Tyson, Ford, Gee, Holmes, Palfrey, Hewitt, Roper, Neal, Owen, Files, Hughes, P Joy, Crowley, Langtree, Thompson, Mason, R Joy, Ward, Roberts.