Two year deal for Neil Roden

Date published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NEIL Roden will end his playing days at Oldham after signing a new two-year contract.

He will be 33 by the time his new deal has finished and, fittingly for a player who has already spent nine and a half seasons with Roughyeds, he says it will then be time to hang up his boots.

Most part-time professionals commit to no more than a year, but in this case both club and player felt it appropriate to tie the knot for the remainder of the stand-off’s accomplished career.

“I wanted to stay here to the end and this pretty much seals it,” said Roden, holder of club records for most appearances and tries.

He made his debut at Featherstone as a 19-year-old in March, 2000, the start of a Roughyeds’ careeer in which he has scored 106 tries and 23 drop goals — 447 points — in 273 appearances.

He beats John Hough (228) into second place on number of games played and he leaves his nearest challenger Mark Sibson (61) trailing way behind in the number of tries scored.

He can, in fact, boast the all-time Oldham Rugby try-scoring record for a half-back, his 106 in 273 games edging 1950s star Frank Pitchford into second place with 105 tries in 305 outings.

That statistic, which will surprise older fans who recall Pitchford’s pace and class in Watersheddings glory days, spotlights more than any other the contribution Roden has made to Roughyeds over the last ten years.

He had four and a half seasons in his first spell here and then spent 2005 and 2006 at Batley and Leigh respectively before returning “home” for keeps and playing a pivotal role at stand-off half for the past five years.

He said: “I’m afraid we’ve been the nearly men with our four Grand Final defeats, but I would love to be part of the squad that finally gets us out of Championship 1. With four going up into a revamped Championship next season is definitely the one to do it.

“We’ve signed some experienced players and we’ve got some great kids coming through like Jamie Dallimore and Alex Thompson so everything looks to be going swimmingly.

“On a personal note, I can’t believe the seasons have flown by so quickly or that I have played in 273 games for the club. It would be nice to get to 300, but that will hinge on form, fitness and whether I continue to be selected.”

Coach Tony Benson welcomed his playmaker-in-chief’s two-year deal and said: “He has matured over the years like a good wine.

“We’ve depended on him a lot, but less so last year than in previous years and that’s no reflection on Neil, more on the growth and development of the team.

“He’s bigger and stronger than he was in the past, and he remains one of the best passers of the ball in the division and one of the best at driving people around the field.

“Defensively, he’s strong in the tackle and, unusually for a half-back, he can pull off several tackles one after the other.

“Opponents run at him and try to work him over, but he stands up to everything that’s thrown at him and then comes back with a bit of magic to set up a try.

“He’s going to end his playing days at the club and if I know Neil Roden he will continue to be a very influential figure around the place for a long time yet.”