Tony Benson stays

Date published: Thursday, October 7, 2010

OLDHAM Rugby League Club’s Kiwi coach Tony Benson confirmed today that he will be in charge of the Roughyeds for a third season in 2011.

“I’m going nowhere . . . and we have some unfinished business to attend to,” said 44-year-old Benson, whose new deal with the club will be finalised when his current international commitments are over at the end of the month.

In each of the New Zealander’s two seasons with Oldham, he has guided Roughyeds to within 80 minutes of promotion to the second tier of the English game only to suffer the agony of Grand Final defeat.

Although the nuts and bolts of Benson’s new agreement with Roughyeds have still to be put in place both parties want fans to know that it is only a matter of time before handshakes will cement a done deal.

Speaking from Avignon, where he is helping to prepare Ireland for their Alitalia European Cup game against France on Saturday, Benson said there was never any question of him looking to move to another job.

He added: “Once I knew for certain the club wanted to keep me I was never going anywhere else. I love the place. I just enjoy being there. It’s a great club to work for. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it was a privilege to be involved with Roughyeds and all that was going on at the club this year, highlighted by our move into the Whitebank Stadium.

“We were all distraught on Grand Final day, but that’s behind us now and we have to move on. I’m already looking forward to getting back into the old routine and getting stuck into the Oldham job again in about a month’s time.”

Benson and Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton had already discussed the Kiwi’s future before the Grand Final setback and they talked about it briefly again before Benson went off on Tuesday to take up his European Cup duties with Ireland as Andy Kelly’s No 2.

Making it absolutely clear that the Roughyeds’ 2011 job was Benson’s if he wanted it, Hamilton said today: “My thoughts on Tony as a coach and as a person are well known by now.

“We spoke a while ago about next year and nothing has happened since to change what was said then. After the superb season we had to come second in the league, our highest-ever finish, a disappointing defeat in one match, albeit a final, was never going to make any difference.

“We were both down in the dumps after the final, but that didn’t affect the way either of us was thinking about the coaching job for next year.

“Tony has continued to be fully involved with everything that has happened since — and as soon as he’s finished with Ireland we’ll get things sorted out.”

Benson’s two-year record in Championship One and play-offs is 31 wins and one draw out of 44 games played, but in 2010 he guided Roughyeds to 18 wins out of 22 games played.

In 2009 Roughyeds reached the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup and the quarter-final of the Northern Rail Cup and in 2010 they recorded the club’s all-time highest score (80-6 against South Wales amateurs Blackwood Bulldogs in the Challenge Cup) and won every league game away from home — a feat never achieved previously.