Roper enjoying his Oldham experience

Date published: Thursday, July 3, 2014

AFTER half a dozen games for Oldham, on-loan half-back Steve Roper says he has seen enough to believe that this could be the year of the Roughyed.

At 27, the little midfield general is one of the most experienced players at Whitebank, where he shoulders a lot of responsibility for directing operations and implementing Scott Naylor’s game plan.
He and captain Lewis Palfrey, three years his junior, are Naylor’s current linchpins — Palfrey on the right, Roper on the left.
The man from derby rivals Rochdale — he was in the Hornets side that broke Oldham hearts in last year’s play-off final — came initially on loan for a month, but then had it extended to the end of the season.
After spending the best part of six seasons at Spotland, he could have been excused for thinking he was being dropped behind enemy lines.
“In actual fact, I was made very welcome at Oldham from day one. I settled in fine. I’m really enjoying my rugby with a great set of lads,” said Roper.
“It suited me fine when the loan was extended because I want to stay at Oldham to be honest, I’m enjoying it so much here.
“More than anything, I want to do my bit in seeing us win promotion and I see absolutely no reason at all why we can’t achieve that.
“If we hadn’t had that off-day at Hemel we would have been two points clear at the top now.
“As it is, we have fewer defeats than any other side in the division and we are the only team still unbeaten at home.”
Roper believes Oldham have the players and the coaching staff to go all the way.
He added: “Training is a lot more intense than what I’d been used to, and I also like the type of rugby we are playing.
“It’s expansive, and it allows me to get my hands on the ball a lot and to get heavily involved in what we are trying to achieve.
“That’s my job. As a half-back, it’s what I’m there for; to make decisions and, with Lewis (Palfrey), to guide the side around the field.
“I suppose I do feel I have some responsibility for the team, but that’s the nature of the position I play; it’s nothing to do with me being older and perhaps a bit more experienced than some of the others.
“We’ve got some very good young players, a few of them still only 20, and that’s reflected in our results.
“In one of my early games, Jason Boults didn’t play and I realised I was the oldest player in the team. You don’t expect that at my age, but it gives an indication of how much youth there is in the side.
“We’ve got some tough games coming up this month, and later on there will be the play-offs, and perhaps in tight games like that my experience will come in handy.”
He thinks they won’t come any tougher than Gloucester at Whitebank a week on Sunday, July 13.
“They’ve won five of their last six, but if we get it right and play to our full potential it will take a very good team to beat us.”