Roper here to stay

Date published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014
OLDHAM have negotiated Steve Roper’s release from Rochdale Hornets and tied him up on contract to the end of the season.

“He’s our lad now,” said a delighted Scott Naylor, of the half-back who has become a key member of the Oldham side since arriving from Spotland on loan in early May.
He came initially for a month. The loan agreement was then extended to the end of the season, but it carried with it a recall clause which would have enabled Hornets to drag him back at any time.
At Whitebank there was a fear it might have happened at the business end of the season and with the top-five play-offs not far away.
Explained chairman Chris Hamilton: “We needed to be in charge of our own destiny, so we have been working on trying to get Steve’s release for quite a while.
“It was completed late on Friday, so the Gloucester game was his first as a fully-fledged Oldham player.
“That removes our concerns as we look ahead to the big games that are coming up.”
Roper, 27, has played in Oldham’s last seven games (six wins), taking up a pivotal role with responsibilities for ensuring the attack runs smoothly on the left-hand side of the field.
Added Naylor: “It was important we secured his services. On and off the field he has done a great job since he came to us in May, knowing he had to prove himself.
“Because of the key role he was going to fill, I needed to have a good look at him and spend time working him into our systems, so he trained with us for the best part of a month before his first game.
“He grabbed his opportunity and he has brought a lot to the team in terms of experience, a higher skill level, composure and a good kicking game. He’s very calm and composed in everything he does.
“There was a worry that Rochdale might have wanted him back, but that’s gone now so we can look ahead with confidence.”
Roper said: “I didn’t want to go back to Rochdale anyway. I’m enjoying my rugby at Oldham and it’s good to know everything is sorted out.
“It’s good for me and for the club. It’s a much more settled situation.
“We’ve got some tough games coming up, but at this stage of the season that’s not a bad thing because they will prepare us for the play-offs.
“So long as we play to our full potential — that’s the key — it will take a good side to beat us.”