Sinfield visits the Roughyeds before final

Date published: Friday, September 24, 2010

OLDHAM RL boss Tony Benson thinks specks of Kevin Sinfield’s glittering star dust will rub off on his team in Sunday’s Championship One Grand Final against York City Knights.

The Kiwi coach briefly took a back seat at training last night while Leeds Rhinos and England legend Sinfield occupied centre stage in preparing Roughyeds for their showdown in Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium.

He presented Paul O’Connor and Neil Roden with specially-commissioned jerseys to mark their inclusion in the division’s 2010 dream team.

Then, in a motivational address, the Oldham-born Leeds captain talked to his home-town team about finals football and how best to prepare for it mentally and physically.

“Kevin was brilliant,” said Benson, “and I thank him for giving up his time. He clearly has a soft spot for the Roughyeds. His talk was inspirational and extremely valuable.

“He even inspired me — and I won’t be playing!”.

Benson will finalise his side, at training on Saturday morning, from the 17 players who were on duty in the 41-32 defeat of York two weeks ago at Whitebank Stadium plus Mark Brocklehurst, Luke Sutton and Johnny Walker.

Forwards Ian Hodson (knee) and Craig Robinson (finger) were ruled out by injury.

Squad: Ashe, Bentley, Boults, Brocklehurst, Chandler, Clarke, Ellison, Fogerty, Gillam, Heaton, Kerr, McNally, O’Connor, Onyango, M Roden, N Roden, St Hilaire, Sutton, Walker, Whitmore.

Remarkably, six of those 20 — full-back Paul O’Connor, right-wing Lucas Onyango, left-centre Mick Fogerty, hooker Martin Roden, prop Dave Ellison and second-rower Joe Chandler — have gone through the entire league and cup season without missing a game.

Furthermore, prop Wayne Kerr and utility man Ben Heaton have missed only one game apiece, while Jason Boults (2) and Danny Whitmore (3) have run them close.

“We’re going to the final as a club, not just as a team,” said Benson.

He added: “It’s been a fantastic season because so many people got behind us while Chris (chairman Hamilton) was saving the club last year.

“The players came on board on a small budget; lots of sponsors followed them; supporters rolled up their sleeves and got Whitebank Stadium fit for use and then the fans followed us in good numbers home and away.

“It’s only because we have all pulled together that we are now heading for the Grand Final. We are a good club. There is something different about the Roughyeds that I have never experienced previously either here or in New Zealand.

“It’s a very special club. The players know that and it’s something they will be taking into the game with them. They will be playing for a lot of different people who make up the club.”

The Roughyeds office in Lansdowne Road, Chadderton closes at 5pm tonight (Friday) and will NOT be open on Saturday morning.