Roden’s baptism of fire

Date published: Monday, February 17, 2014
PLAYER-TURNED-COACH Neil Roden faces a baptism of fire in his new job as boss of Oldham RL Club’s under-20s squad.
His first five games in charge of the Whitebank youngsters will be against some of the strongest clubs in the higher Championship division — Leigh, Sheffield (twice), Featherstone and Halifax.
“They don’t come much tougher than that,” said Roden, whose first league game in charge will be against Leigh at Whitebank on Saturday, March 8 (2.30pm kick off).
There will be 16 league games for Roughyeds — eight home, eight away — over a 23-week regular season with a play-off series to follow for the top five.
It will not, however, be a “true” league format inasmuch as not all teams will play the same number of matches and positions will be worked out on a percentage success rate.
Oldham, for instance, will play Sheffield and Halifax three times, but Gloucester All Golds only once.
All Roughyeds’ home games will be at Whitebank on Saturdays with 2.30pm starts.
They will have three midweek games at Keighley, Leigh and Halifax.
As well as club teams, the division will include RFL-run regional academy squads representing the Midlands, the North-East and Cumbria.
Oldham will play the regional squads once each plus a total of 13 games against club sides to produce their 16-game programme.
Of the 23 professional clubs that will compete beneath Super League in the Championship and Championship One divisions this season (split 14 and nine respectively) only seven will be represented in the Championships under-20s league.
Oldham and Gloucester will fly the flag for Championship One, with Leigh Centurions, Sheffield Eagles, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax and Keighley Cougars representing the Championship.
Super League clubs totally dominate the under-19 and under-16 academies with the vast majority of clubs in the second and third tiers choosing to run only a first team.
Roughyeds, however, have always believed passionately that there are benefits to be gained from investment in a young second team and can point to the fact that six members of this season’s senior squad — Phil Joy, Danny Langtree, Michael Ward, David Cookson, Kenny Hughes and Steven Nield — were all products of that system.
Said Roden: “Training is going well. I have, on average, more than 20 players at each session. They can’t wait for the first game.
“It was a setback to have last Wednesday’s friendly against Keighley called off because of the weather, but I’m hoping we’ll squeeze a game in before the first league match.”
Oldham’s under-20s fixtures are as follows: 

 

March

Saturday 8th                Leigh Centurions                   H         2:30 pm

Saturday 22nd               Sheffield Eagles                        A         2:00pm

Saturday 29th              Featherstone Rovers             H         2:30pm

April   

Saturday 12th              Halifax                      H             2.30pm

Saturday 26th                Sheffield Eagles                        A         2:00pm

 May

Saturday 3rd                N E Academy`                        H         2:30pm

Saturday 10th                Midlands Academy                   A         2:30pm

Saturday 24th                Cumbria Academy                    A         2:30pm

Saturday 31st              Sheffield Eagles                     H         2:30pm

June

Thursday 12th               Keighley                                   A         7:30pm

Saturday 21st                Featherstone Rovers                 A         2:30pm

 July

Saturday 5th                Halifax                                    H         2:30pm

Saturday 12th             Gloucester                              H         2:30pm

Wednesday 30th           Leigh Centurions                       A         7:30pm

August

Saturday 9th                Keighley                                 H         2:30pm

Thursday 14th               Halifax                                      A         7:30pm