Tonight’s team news

Date published: Monday, February 22, 2010

by Roger Halstead

Bustling back-row forward Craig Robinson, out for five weeks with a broken nose, is back in a 19-man Roughyeds squad for tonight’s Northern Rail Cup clash with Sheffield Eagles at Sedgley Park (8.00pm kick off).

The Yorkshireman was injured in Howard Hill’s testimonial game at Whitehaven on January 20, but he is likely to start his comeback against Mark Aston’s Eagles, probably from the bench.

Young prop Ben Mellor, a substitute last time out at Hunslet, could be the forward to make way for Robinson in the final 17.

Craig Littler is unavailable so Mark Brocklehurst is in line to get his first start on the left wing with Marcus St Hilaire switching from wing to centre to take up the position previously occupied by Littler.

Up in the forwards, prop Wayne Kerr looks like getting a rare start and there could also be a positional change in the back three where Chris Clarke and Ben Heaton are being lined up to swop jobs, Clarke moving to loose and Heaton from loose to second-row.

Lucas Onyango was unwell and unable to train on Saturday morning. If he is still under the weather this evening Paul Reilly will step into the right-wing berth.

Oldham (from): O’Connor; Onyango, Reilly, St Hilaire, Fogerty, Brocklehurst; N Roden, Ashe; Boults, M Roden Whitmore, Kerr, Ellison, Heaton, Saqib Murtza, Chandler, Clarke, Mellor, Reilly.

Sheffield have already qualified for the last eight by drawing 18-18 at Featherstone and beating York City Knights (40-10) and Halifax (13-6) at the Don Valley Stadium.

They are fancied to be pushing for honours in the Co-operative Championship this year and they have certainly made a flying start in the Northern Rail Cup with the help of former Roughyeds pair Ged Corcoran and Matty Brooks.

The team that beat Halifax last time out lined up like this: Woodcock; Thackeray, Mossop, Ropati, Taulapapa; Lindsay, McDonald; Howieson, Cook, Stringer, Szostak, Corcoran, Hirst. Subs: Brooks, Haley, Exton, Hepworth.

The squad includes several exciting overseas men such as Samoan centre Tangi Ropati; Samoan international winger Misi Taulapapoa, who was formerly in the NRL with Cronulla Sharks and New Zealand Warriors; Aussie stand-off Brendon Lindsay; Papua New Guinea international Trevor Exton; and Aussie scrum-half Dane McDonald.

Free transport to the game is provided by Atlantic Executive Travel of Heywood, who will pick up at the Black Horse, Ripponden Road ay 6.30pm; Mecca Bingo at 6.45pm; and The Railway public house in Royton at 7.00pm.

Anyone wishing to travel on the free bus MUST ring the Roughyeds office as soon as possible to reserve a place and confirm pick-up point.

Season-ticket holders who like a seat will be accommodated in the Sedgley Park stand without having to pay the £2 transfer fee. The only stipulation is that seats are taken up before 7.45pm at which point the stand will be opened up to everyone.