So far, so good

Date published: Thursday, November 15, 2012
EIGHT weeks into his first head coach’s job, Oldham RL Club’s new team boss Scott Naylor says he is more than satisfied at what has been achieved so far.
When he followed Tony Benson into the Whitebank hot-seat in early September, he had only one player, Neil Roden, under contract for 2013 and morale was at a low ebb after the club’s failure to get anywhere near promotion for the second year running.
Two months on 20 players are committed to Roughyeds and tied up on contracts for 2013 — no loan deals yet — and the new boss’s confident and forthright approach is starting to rub off on the fans.
Naylor has got the right-hand man he wanted as his No 2, Lee Spencer, and pre-season training got off to a flier on Tuesday when, on his own admission, the boss was thrilled to be back in a track suit doing the job he does best.
Said Naylor: “As first pre-season sessions go it was good. Facilities were first-class, everybody was in attendance and there wasn’t a man who didn’t put in a 100 per cent shift.
“It was a two-hour session, but the time flew. It felt like no more than 20 minutes to me, but I don’t suppose the boys felt like that because they had to do such a lot of hard work.
“I learned a lot in those two hours. It was my first chance to assess them and look at their skill levels, among other things, and generally just to get to know them better and to see how they reacted to pressure.”
Of the 20 players signed so far, nine are newcomers, five have been promoted from the reserves and only six were first-team regulars last season — Roden, Jamie Dallimore, Liam Gilchrist, Jason Boults, Michael Ward and David Cookson.
It’s Naylor’s squad, rather than one he has inherited, and as the boss is a new boy too he will start with a clean sheet of paper which will include notes on who might be best equipped to lead the side as captain.
Roden (32), the senior player in both age and length of service, has led the side for the past few seasons and may be offered the extra responsibility again, although Naylor is keeping an open mind for the time being.
He said: “I have two or three people in mind, but somebody else might show up and leap out at me during training in the coming weeks.
“Appointments like this often happen naturally, but to be honest it isn’t something I’m losing any sleep about at this early stage.”