St Hilaire included in squad

Date published: Friday, February 18, 2011

MARCUS St Hilaire, one of Oldham RL Club’s senior players and a leading member of coach Tony Benson’s backroom ‘brains trust’, may play his first game of the season against Swinton Lions at Salford on Sunday (3pm).

The former Huddersfield, Leeds and Bradford star is included in a 20-man squad from which Benson will name his final 17 at training tomorrow.

Although St Hilaire hasn’t played in any of the Roughyeds’ three warm-up matches and two Northern Rail Cup games to date, he has watched most of them in his capacity as joint vice-captain and as one of a clutch of senior players whom Benson involves in dressing room decision making.

Newly-appointed club captain Neil Roden and assistant coach Martin Roden, his cousin, are also among Benson’s senior lieutenants and right-hand men.

With hooking duties going to John Clough and Danny Whitmore in last Sunday’s heavy defeat at Halifax, Martin Roden doubled up as 18th man (reserve) and Benson’s No 2.

Roden keeps his place in the squad for the third of four Northern Rail Cup pool games which have so far produced a 28-22 win aganst Hunslet Hawks and a 50-10 defeat at Halifax.

Benson will select from the 17 who played at The Shay plus Martin Roden, St Hilaire and rookie prop Tom Wood-Hulme, who scored two tries for the reserves last week and further enhanced his growing reputation.

Much will depend on the outcome of late fitness tests on full-back Ben Heaton (groin) and loose-forward Valu Bentley, who was knocked out at Halifax and had to be assisted from the field in a dazed condition.

Oldham (from): Bentley, Boults, Bradbury, Clarke, Clough, Diveney, Ellison, Gilchrist, Gillam, Heaton, Isherwood, Noone, Onyango, M Roden, N Roden, St Hilaire, Sutton, Whitmore, Wood, Wood-Hulme.

Said Benson: “It will be an important game for both clubs in terms of qualifying for the sudden-death stage of the competition.

“We are still smarting from the manner of our defeat at Halifax and we are now playing the side that many are tipping to win our league competition.

“Swinton pushed Halifax close and then put up stiff resistance at Leigh against another Championship outfit so we know we are going up against a very good side and that we will have to improve significantly on how we played last week.”

Swinton coach Steve McCormack has used two pre-season games and the two Northern Rail Cup matches to mix and match his large squad, but he is expected to field his strongest line-up for this one.

It could include the promotion from bench to starting line-up of new signing Chris Tyrer, who impressed as a substitute forward on debut at Leigh.