‘Teenager Tom won’t be rushed’Date published: Wednesday, May 6, 2015
OLDHAM RL Club won’t make the mistake of exposing their talented teenager Tom Dempsey to too much rugby too soon.
The 18-year-old’s polished performance at full-back in Sunday’s 33-30 win against Gloucester All Golds at Whitebank showcased his natural ability, highlighted when his deadly distribution twice opened up the visitors’ defence for winger Steve Nield to score in the corner.
That wasn’t all.
When skipper Lewis Palfrey damaged a leg muscle he had no hesitation in handing over goalkicking duties to the Widnes-born Dempsey, a left-footed marksman who twice judged the tricky wind perfectly to land two conversions off the right-hand touchline.
“He’s a gifted lad with natural talent but we won’t be rushing him,” said coach Scott Naylor, the senior partner in a two-man coaching and managerial team which has vast experience in nurturing and developing young players.
Lee Spencer, Naylor’s No 2, spent years looking after Salford’s scholarship and academy boys and also worked for the RFL on regional and national development camps.
Added Naylor: “Like Richard Joy, who’s also stepped up from last season’s under-20s side, Tom knows he won’t be a permanent fixture in the side.
“He’ll be in and out as we monitor his progress, but I’ve spoken to both these lads about this and they fully understand that we’re handling their development as we see fit and in their best interests.
“They both need to keep working hard, and Tom needs to work on his strength, his fitness and the physical aspect of his game. The skills come naturally to come him.
“He’s got great hands and a good kicking game and it’s nice to know that, even at 18, he can handle senior rugby and accept responsibility whenever we call on him.”
Dempsey, who came to Oldham when released by Wigan Warriors, said of his man-of-the-match performance against Gloucester: “We weren’t at our best — we’ll have to be better at Barrow — but we dug deep to grind out a win.”
Palfrey last night had treatment for the dead leg that caused him to be withdrawn in the second half.
He was said to be “a little better” and the club is hopeful that he will be fit for Saturday’s trip to Craven Park (6.30pm kick off) when Roughyeds will be aiming to repeat their 32-10 win on the same ground in the iPro Sport Cup in March.
Naylor hopes to pick from a full squad, including Adam Clay, Steve Roper, Kenny Hughes and Richard Joy, who were rested last week.
Oldham will have a bucket collection at their next home game against Newcastle Thunder on Sunday week, May 17, for the dependents of Danny Jones, the Keighley half-back who died after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest during a game at London Skolars.
The Just Giving page set up by the RFL Benevolent Fund has already raised £50,000. If you would like to donate, please visit www.justgiving.com/dannyjones29.
Keighley’s home game against Coventry on Sunday will go ahead as scheduled at the request of the family.