Roden “Old team spirit is back again”

Date published: Tuesday, January 4, 2011

TEAM spirit and togetherness will form a big part of Oldham RL Club’s armoury in the season that lies ahead, said long-serving Neil Roden after leading Roughyeds to a 34-28 Law Cup triumph over derby rivals Rochdale Hornets.

Roden captained an Oldham squad of 18 which included eight debutants, six of whom had never played previously at Championship One level.

The new boys who had seen it all before were 26-year-old replacement hooker John Clough, Blackpool Panthers’ player of the year in 2010, and 31-year-old former Wigan, Leigh, Rochdale and Swinton forward Andy Isherwood.

Liam Gilchrist

The six who stepped up to this level for the first time were centre Alistair Williams, winger Jamie Knight, scrum-half Mick Diveney, prop Liam Gilchrist, second-rower Ben Wood and prop Tom Wood-Hulme.

John Gillam, Martin Roden, Danny Whitmore, Chris Clarke, Jack Bradbury, Marcus St Hilaire and Tom Woodcock sat this one out for a variety of reasons, including sickness, injury and unavailability.

Roughyeds won 17 of their 20 league games last season, finishing second to champions Hunslet. The Hawks were promoted with 55 points.

Oldham finished with 52 points — 13 more than third-placed York — but the City Knights beat Tony Benson’s men in the play-off final to join Hunslet in the higher division.

Said Roden: “A fantastic team spirit was a feature of our 2010 season, and it’s going to be the same again in 2011. We have a lot of new players and it’s still early days, but we’ve been training for several weeks and the old team spirit is back again — no danger about that. You can feel it.

“It will stand us in good stead when things get tough, as they undoubtedly will. It’s also a plus to see so many young Oldham boys coming through and coming into the squad. That will also benefit us.”

Coach Tony Benson said he was highly encouraged by his side’s performance against Hornets, particularly as his preparations had been severely affected by the bad weather.

Neil Roden with the Law Cup

He added: “Our contact in the tackle was already better than last year and that was perhaps due to all the work we have done in a smallish judo hall.

“Our fitness looked fine for this time of year; our defence was okay; and I liked our go-forward. Anything we did with the ball (like score seven tries) was a bonus.

“We are a biggish-looking squad now, and in Tom Wood-Hulme I think we’ve got the second Wayne Kerr. The club has done a great recruitment job in the off-season.

“When you consider what we did today and then look at which players didn’t play, I think I am entitled to be a little bit excited about prospects for the season.”