Thomas takes over as fitness guru

Date published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014
CRAIG Thomas, Oldham RL Club’s new strength and conditioning guru, has promised that Roughyeds will again be one of the fittest squads in Championship One in the coming season.
Thomas (23), from Moston, succeeds Mike Hughes, who has left the club to travel the world and to seek new career opportunities in Australia.
Head coach Scott Naylor had no hesitation in promoting Thomas to the top fitness job in what will be his third season at Whitebank.
“As Mike Hughes’s right-hand man, Craig played a big role in everything we did last season and his promotion was a natural progression,” said Naylor.
“He was an important member of last season’s coaching and conditioning team, working alongside me, Lee Spencer (assistant coach) and Mike, and in that role he did more than enough to show that he was ready to take on the top conditioning job.
“He has his own ideas and he will put his own twist on things, while working to ensure that, individually and collectively, the first-team squad is in tip-top condition for the challenges that lie ahead.”
While studying for a degree in applied sports science at Salford University, specialising in strength and conditioning, Thomas did work experience with the then named Salford City Reds.
One of his fellow students was on the backroom staff at Leigh Centurions and it was through that connection that he went to Leigh to work with the Academy squads, ultimately moving up to the reserve side.
He joined Oldham in 2012 to work with the second team.
Last season, following the appointment of Naylor and Spencer as coaches and Hughes as conditioner, he continued to work with the under-20s, while also accepting an invitation to take an ever-increasing role in first-team operations, both at training and on match-day, home and away.
He said: “I learned a lot from Mike. Roughyeds were as fit as any team in the division last season and I intend to see that they will be just as well prepared this time round.
“Last year’s was very much a joint effort. Mike didn’t do Thursday training sessions so I was on my own anyway for one of the weekly sessions and on the other two we mixed things up and worked side by side.
“The first warm-up game at Barrow (February 2) will soon be here. I can’t wait. The trick is to use the friendlies in such a way that we are in the best possible condition mentally and physically for the first league game down in South Wales at the beginning of March.”