Squad numbers

Date published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
TOM Whitehead has big shoes to fill as Oldham RL Club’s No 1 in the fast-approaching Kingstone Press Championship One season.
In recent years some of the Roughyeds’ most exciting players have worn the No 1 shirt with pride.
Names roll off the tongue . . .  Paul O’Connor, Ben Heaton, Miles Greenwood and, last season, Richard Lepori.
Following Lepori’s departure for Australia, Whitehead and Steven Nield will be competing for the full-back berth.
They got half a game apiece in the first of the two pre-season games at Barrow, but Nield had nobody breathing down his neck in the next run-out against Swinton because Whitehead was out with an Achilles problem.
Since then, 22 players have each been allocated squad numbers and relevant jerseys.
Nield kept his No 4 shirt from 2013, while 22-year-old Whitehead — ex-Waterhead and Salford  — was handed No 1, having had No 24 last year.
Prop Phil Joy also moved up, from 18 in his first season of senior rugby to No 8 this time as successor to Liam Gilchrist, now at Rochdale.
New signing Ben Wood, equally at home at centre or in the back-row, was given No 3; a strong hint that he will probably be regarded more as a big, strong-running outside back than as a forward.
As Neil Roden’s replacement, Brett Robinson’s No 7 was expected, while Robinson’s fellow recruits Danny Whitmore and Paddy Mooney were given No 17 and No 15 respectively.
The two young forwards on season-long loan from Salford, Alex Davidson and George Tyson, were also ‘numbered’ — a recognised status symbol within the squad.
Shirts will be worn as follows:
No 1, Tom Whitehead; 2, Mo Agoro; 3, Ben Wood, 4, Steven Nield, 5, Dale Bloomfield; 6, Lewis Palfrey (capt); 7, Brett Robinson; 8, Phil Joy; 9, Sam Gee (vice-capt); 10, Jason Boults; 11, Josh Crowley; 12, Danny Langtree; 13, Mark Hobson; 14, Adam Files; 15, Paddy Mooney; 16, Kenny Hughes; 17, Danny Whitmore; 18, Alex Davidson; 19, Michael Ward; 20, George Tyson; 21, David Cookson; 22, Liam Thompson.
Coach Scott Naylor, meanwhile, has warned that now isn’t the time for anyone to be filling players’ heads with talk of play-offs and promotion.
He’s more interested in the here and now than either the past or the future.
“The goal of every team in the division will be to compete in the play-offs,” he said.
“Last year we were the best team going into them, but we didn’t get the rewards we deserved for a season’s work.
“That’s all I’m going to say on that subject. I find it weird to be asked about such things when the season hasn’t even started yet.
“There’s a lot of rugby to come before then; ups and downs no doubt; and things we can’t envisage or predict.
“My focus right now is on hitting the ground running and getting the season off to a good start.”