Roper signs on loan

Date published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
STEVE Roper, Rochdale Hornets’ first-choice scrum-half for the past four seasons, has joined Oldham on loan, initially for one month.
He trained with his new team mates for the first time last night and he’ll be in the mix when Scott Naylor considers his half-back options for Sunday’s visit of Tony Benson’s Oxford to Whitebank (3pm kick off).
“After our disappointing performance at Hunslet on Good Friday, everyone who is fit will be in contention this weekend,” said Naylor.
Clearly concerned by that 38-12 defeat, he has wasted no time in bringing in the experienced Roper, who has recently returned from a similar loan spell with Gloucester All Golds.
Aged 27, he has played nearly 90 games for Rochdale, most of them in partnership with Paul Crook and including two wins against Oldham in last year’s Championship One play-off series, which condemned Roughyeds to another season of third-tier rugby.
Grand Final triumph and promotion to the Championship came at a price for Roper, who had his nose pushed out when Hornets went across the world to sign Sydney-born Fijian international half Ryan Millard.
A member of Fiji’s World Cup squad last year, Millard is Spotland’s new blue-eyed boy, while Roper ponders his future on being allowed out on loan.
Said Naylor: “For whatever reason, he wasn’t getting games at Rochdale, and when I spoke to him he was keen to come here, to work hard and to prove himself.
“Half-back is a position in which we have not been at our best this season, so by bringing in an experienced man I am giving myself options and putting pressure on the others.
“I can approach things differently and use different tactics with different people. Roper can kick goals and that will come in handy as a bonus if Lewis Palfrey is not on the field.”
Naylor’s team at Hunslet last time out did not include half-back Brett Robinson, who had played in every previous game this season following his move from Oxford at the end of last season.
Said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton: “We know how influential Steve Roper was in Rochdale’s games against us last season, particularly in the semi-final and then the final.
“Competition for spots is important and this will clearly add to it.”
Paddy Mooney could be out for another two or three weeks with a back problem, but there are high hopes that young hooker Adam Files might be returning soon after conquering his long-standing knee injury.  
Naylor said Files trained well last night. The medical staff believe he could be back soon providing he doesn’t suffer an adverse reaction.