Tough decisions ahead

Date published: Monday, February 25, 2013

OLDHAM RL boss Scott Naylor will have tough decisions to make this week in selecting his 17 for Sunday’s opening game of the season against North Wales Crusaders at Wrexham.

In warm-up games against a young Salford City Reds squad and Rochdale Hornets for the Law Cup, both ending in victory, he has been able to use every available member of his 22-man squad on each occasion.
He went with 19 players against Salford when David Cookson (suspension) and Liam Thompson and Richard Lepori were nursing injuries.
Cookson and Thompson were still sidelined at Spotland where Lepori made his debut at full-back in a squad in which all seven substitutes took to the field.
Those 20 players must now be cut to 17 — 18 if you count the travelling reserve — and Naylor admits that selection will give him a sore head.
For instance, he used his three hookers in each of the pre-season games and there was much to commend the performances of Sam Gee, Adam Files and Kenny Hughes both at Whitebank and at Spotland.
Gee and Hughes were among the six try scorers against Salford, while Files went in from dummy half for a crucial try at Rochdale which restored Oldham’s lead just after half-time.
Said Naylor: “My hookers are giving me a real headache because I have three very good players in that position and all three are playing well in a very good pack.”
He also has front-row options on either side of his hookers where he can choose between Jason Boults, Liam Gilchrist, Phil Joy, Callum Marriott and Chris Tyrer for the two starting props with at least one more, maybe two, on the bench.
Fans may be given a pointer in the choice of the squad to play Leigh Centurions at Leigh East on Friday night in the first of 14 games for the new under-20s side.
Depending on knocks and Naylor’s thoughts about his starting line-up at Wrexham in the Northern Rail Cup there is a possibility that Roughyeds may field a stronger, more experienced side than that beaten by York at Whitebank in their only pre-season run-out.
Naylor and his assistant Lee Spencer hope to meet lots of fans at Whitebank on Wednesday night when first-team squad members will be presented with their squad numbers for the season.
The meet-and-greet launch to the Roughyeds’ season, in which promotion to the Championship will be their ultimate goal, starts at 7.30pm and admission is free.