Talented Tom puts pen to paper

Date published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
OLDHAM Rugby League Club have signed their ‘baby’ on professional forms.
Seventeen-year-old half-back Tom Dempsey, the youngest player at Whitebank, has signed a deal to November 30, 2015 so that he can continue his development in the under-20s squad knowing he has a future at the club.
Dempsey, who lives in Runcorn, joined Oldham at the start of this season, having previously passed through the development system at Wigan Warriors.
In a relatively short time at Whitebank he has made a big impression while occupying a key pivotal role in the under-20s squad and showing up well against bigger and much older opponents.
“He has handled this situation admirably, which in itself is a pointer to his future prospects,” said club chairman Chris Hamilton.
“Even at under-20s level he is still a ‘baby’, but he has all the attributes — ability, desire, commitment and a terrific attitude.
“He was bitterly disappointed not to be retained by Wigan, but I’ve had a long chat with his parents and explained to them that at the age of 17 he still has all his future ahead of him.
“We have had several examples at our club of young players who have suffered similar knocks at Super League clubs but are now pursuing a different path and moving onwards and upwards.
“His parents are very supportive, so much so that they drive him from Runcorn to Oldham for every training session and every game.
“He is young and he has a lot of work to do, but we feel he has the makings of a very good player and that we can be good for each other.”
Under-20s coach Neil Roden, who should know a thing or two about half-backs, alerted Scott Naylor to the youngster’s potential and Naylor has kept a close eye on him over recent weeks.
“I’ve seen him a few times in the under-20s, and I like what I see,” said the club’s head coach.
“In training we often run the under-20s against the first team and even in that company he doesn’t look out of place.
“By signing players like Dempsey and Richard Joy we are looking to the future of the club.
“That’s what our academy is there for. The club believes passionately in developing its own players, as its record shows, and so do I.
“On occasions when it won’t adversely affect Neil’s (Roden’s) squad, I’m hoping to have one or two of the younger players training with the first team to give them a taste of what it means to step up to the higher level.
“That will also show the lads that we have in place a pathway to progress for anyone who works hard and shows he has the ability and the right attitude.”