Roughyeds news

Date published: Friday, April 9, 2010

NEIL Roden, 30 today, will celebrate his birthday with a quiet family meal tonight — and then get himself psyched up for his 238th appearance in the Roughyeds’ jersey, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.

Sunday’s clash with new club South Wales Scorpions in Neath (2.00pm kick off) reminds stand-off Roden of a similar challenge that faced Oldham in 2007 when they beat Celtic Crusaders 34-26 at Bridgend, in what was then National League Two, after trailing 22-6 at half-time.

Of the current squad only five played in that televised Friday night match — Paul O’Connor at full-back, Lucas Onyango on the left wing, Roden at stand-off, Ian Hodson in the second-row and Jason BoultsĀ as a substitute.

Among the Crusaders’ replacements was a fiery young forward by the name of Jamie I’Anson, now an Oldham player and in contention for a place in the 17-man squad on Sunday.

“We didn’t know a lot about the Crusaders in 2007, but we know even less about the Scorpions,” said Roden. “They have players on dual registration from Crusaders, who are now in Super League, but they are not always available. A lot will hinge on what sort of a side they can put out.

“Either way it’s going to be tough. If anyone had tipped us to win our first four league games we would have snapped their hand off.

“We didn’t play all that well against Hornets and Workington over Easter, but we dug in to get our wins and I think that says a lot about the side.

“If we do recapture the form we showed in the first two games at Swinton and Hunslet we’ll take some beating.”

Neil, who made his Oldham debut at Featherstone ten years ago, has scored 94 tries and 22 drop goals in cup and league and needs two points to hit 400.

He added: “I was 19 when I ran out with Oldham for the first time, but it seems like only yesterday. The time has whizzed by.

“The team spirit in the camp now is as good as anything I have known and it certainly got us through in the two Easter games. Hopefully, it will be a big factor on Sunday as well.

“Age wise, it’s a bit of a shock to be leaving my 20s behind, but I can console myself in that I’m younger than our Martin.”

‘Our Martin’ or ‘the other Roden’ is Neil’s cousin. He is also the club’s fitness conditioner, current captain and first-choice hooker, who came out of retirement in a Roughyeds crisis last year and is now a key member of the side as well as having an important role to play within the backroom team.

Martin was 30 last Boxing Day. His father and Neil’s father Jack, the Wigan Warriors chief scout, are brothers.

Said Neil: “We didn’t go to the same school, but we were in the same school year, so we played in the same age-group teams for Ince St Williams, Wigan St Pat’s and Wigan schoolboys.

“We both signed for Wigan and played in the same Academy side. When I left to join Oldham, Martin had another couple of years with the Warriors and then he moved on to Leigh.

“It’s great that we’re playing in the same side again as we get towards the end of our careers and I’m pretty sure that Martin is enjoying it as much as I am.”

Coach Tony Benson will finalise his party to travel to South Wales at training on Saturday morning after fitness checks on several players.