Roughyeds Tuesday

Date published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OLDHAM RL players have been told that nothing but their best will do in 2012.

In the RFL’s revamp of the sport beneath Super League a ten-club Championship One in 2013 will probably be comprised of development clubs from far and wide plus two established teams from rugby league’s heartland.

With four going up into a 14-team Championship, next season will be a watershed in the history of third-tier clubs . . . and Roughyeds don’t intend to be left behind.

Promotion is a MUST . . . that was the message laid on the line by management when chairman Chris Hamilton and coach Tony Benson headed a players’ meeting to lay down guidelines for the vital year ahead.

Benson, who will be in charge for his fourth season, said: “The purpose of the meeting was to put rules of engagement in place and to set out our stall.

“Each player was left in no doubt as to what was expected of him. Chris (Hamilton) spoke at length and every aspect of the players’ approach to the job in hand was covered. Not a single stone was left unturned.

“We were unlucky with long-term injuries last season, but even so we were inconsistent in our performances. Striving to be a lot more consistent match on match, like we were in 2010, is one of our objectives.

“We talked about commitment, application, determination and the need to be the best we can possibly be, individually and collectively, on every play in every game.

“It was a good meeting. As far as players and coaching staff are concerned the season starts here.”

Turning to the ongoing squad-building operation, he said: “Recruitment is going well. We are on schedule and way ahead of each of my three previous years at the club.

“Most of last season’s squad are still with us and we’ve made some notable additions. We’ve still got room for more, but how far we go down that road might hinge to some degree on how season-ticket sales go during November.

“I’m delighted with our new signings — Danny Heaton, Paul Smith,Neil Rigby and you can also count Bruce Johnson in that — and we’ve still got a couple of spots open for further new additions, but we won’t be rushing because it is vital that we get the right men to put the finishing touches to the squad.

“Competition for places will be key to my selection processes and the squad we are putting together ensures that nobody will be guaranteed a place in the starting line-up.”

Each player has been given individual weight-training and cardiovascular exercise programmes to work on over the next three or four weeks before tests are carried out during the week starting November 21.

Full pre-season training begins on November 29.

++The funeral service for former Oldham and Halifax stand-off John Blair will be held at Waterhead Church on Friday (10.15am) and then at Oldham Crematorium at 11.30am. John died in Dr Kershaw’s on Saturday after a four-year battle against cancer.