Scott Naylor

Date published: Friday, September 21, 2012

OLDHAM’S new head coach, Scott Naylor, has taken on a huge task at Whitebank with his “eyes wide open”, said chairman Chris Hamilton at the media conference which heralded the arrival of the former Salford, Bradford Bulls and England centre on a two-year contract.

The Roughyeds chief said the process of selecting and appointing Tony Benson’s successor had been the longest he had experienced in the club’s 15-year existence, and that was because he didn’t want anyone to feel they had not been made fully aware of the challenges that lay ahead and the size of the task they were taking on.

Asked why he had offered the job to 40-year-old Naylor, Chris said: “It was a combination of things. He’s a no-nonsense man, who is hungry to succeed and who sets standards for the players to aspire to.

“In his time as a player he wasn’t necessarily the best — his words, not mine — but opponents always knew they had been in a game. He was determined they were not going to get the better of him.

“At a club like ours that’s an excellent ethic to pass on to players. He also comes across as what I call a REAL rugby league man. There are different degrees of that, but Scott is rugby league through and through.”

Naylor, who lives in his home-town of Leigh, played as a boy for Leigh Miners and Leigh East before signing for Wigan at the age of 16. He later had five years at Salford and another five at Bradford Bulls where he played in a star-studded Bulls side that won the Challenge Cup twice and the Super League Grand Final twice during his time at Odsal.

He also played four times for England in the 2000 World Cup.

He said: “Rugby is all I’ve known since I left school at 16 and signed for Wigan. It’s been my life for the last 24 years. It’s in my blood.

“It will be a big challenge at Oldham, but I don’t mind that. I’ve been out of the game for two years and my hunger to get back into it and do well will drive me on. I’m looking forward to it immensely.

“I had two lengthy meetings with Chris. No stone was left unturned. I’m under no illusions about the size of the task. I know exactly what the job entails.

“It would be nice to talk about promotion in the first season, but the reality is we have only one player signed on for 2013 at this stage so we have a lot of work to do in order to build up the squad. Things have got to be better than last season, though.

“The players will get 100 per cent from me and if I get 100 per cent from them we’ll see what happens. I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait to get started.

“As Chris said, I wasn’t the best player in the world, but I managed to win everything there was to win and also play for my country, so I did something right somewhere.

“I didn’t have natural talent, but my parents brought me up right and taught me that hard work took you places and I always applied that to my rugby.

“Chris must have seen something in me and I appreciate that he has given me the opportunity to show what I’m capable of doing.”

The chairman said he wished to place on public record his thanks to Martin Roden for doing a splendid job as caretaker boss over the last four games of the season.

He added: “I’ve spoken to Martin today. He is happy with the appointment and although no decision has been made yet about Scott’s assistant, Martin will be very much in the frame.

“The focus now is on getting the squad together.”

Naylor said of the forthcoming assistant’s appointment: “Martin did a good job so he’s got to be in the running. I don’t really know him, but I need to talk to him, I need to get to know him.

“He isn’t the only person in my mind, but in view of how well he did as caretaker he needs to be given first chance. It wouldn’t be fair to dismiss him, so I’ll meet him and we’ll see what happens.”

He went back to Salford, after five years at Odsal, to finish his playing career and then, in his first year back, he was involved in the coaching of both the academy and reserve teams at a time when Karl Harrison and Jimmy Lowes were at The Willows.

In his second season back he coached the City Reds’ first team during the day and the academy at night.

He had worked, as player and coach, under a long list of top coaches, including Matthew Elliott, Brian Noble, Harrison, and Shaun McRae.

Added Scott: “After 24 years in the game I have lots of contacts and I know loads of players, ex-players, scouts, managers and club offficials and I’ve already had four or five phone calls from people telling me of players who are available.”