Three squads one club

Date published: Friday, July 29, 2011

TONY Benson expects Oldham RL Club to go from strength to strength thanks to the quality and quantity of players assembled at Whitebank in three separate squads — first team, reserves and under-18s.

Speaking ahead of a three-day period in which first and second teams defend impressive home records and the under-18s go to Keighley, head-coach Benson said he was excited by the club’s potential.

“I’m proud of all three teams,” he said, “and proud of what we are building at the club. While the first team is the shop window, it’s highly encouraging to see so many players with real prospects coming through the reserves.

“Some of them are pushing for first-team spots, but the players who are already up there are playing so well that they are hanging on to the jerseys.

“We are moving forward as a club on three levels and a lot of the younger players — Ben Heaton, Danny Whitmore, Chris Clarke, Liam Gilchrist, Matthew Fogarty, Tom Wood-Hulme, Shaun Robinson, Michael Ward, Jamie Dallimore, Tommy Connick, Alex Thomson and Danny Langtree to name just a few — can form the backbone of the club ‘s future.”

Teenager Fogarty, out for several weeks with elbow and hand injuries, is in line to return to action in John Hough’s third-placed reserves side which entertains second-placed Leigh Centurions at Whitebank tomorrow (2.30pm kick off).

Fogarty last night trained with the reserves, who haven’t been beaten at Whitebank since Widnes Vikings won here 50-40 on the opening day of the league campaign in the middle of March.

Benson’s senior side takes a similar record into Sunday’s home game against Workington Town (3pm kick off), having been beaten only twice all year at Whitebank — by Whitehaven in the Northern Rail Cup in February and by Swinton in Championship One in March.

Prop Luke Stenchion has a back injury and will be checked out on Saturday. Robinson, Mark McCully and on-loan Danny Bravo, all hurt against Keighley last Sunday, have been passed fit , but Gilchrist and Fogarty will be on stand-by.

Oldham (from): Heaton, Brocklehurst, St Hilaire, Fogarty, McCully, Robinson, N Roden, Forber, Boults, M Roden, Clough, Stenchion, Sutton, Gilchrist, Noone, Bravo, Isherwood, Casey, Ward, Bentley,

Workington will be without fiery prop Ryan MacDonald, who has a fractured scaphoid, but key pack men Dave Armitstead and Jarrad Stack are in good form and they will be keen to mastermind another win against the Roughyeds, who were beaten 31-12 at Derwent Park in March.

Said Benson: “Our challenge is to play as well as we did last week. We are, however, under no illusions about the size of the task.”

Free transport to Whitebank from the Watersheddings/Waterhead side of town will be supplied both Saturday and Sunday by The Junction Inn at the bottom of Ripponden Road providing you ring in advance on (0161) 633 2759.

The under-18s, coached by Phil Costin, go to Keighley on Monday (8pm kick off) unbeaten, having run up a big score to lower Workington’s colours before drawing at Hunslet Hawks.