Valu is as happy as Larry

Date published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FANS’ favourite Valu Bentley claimed to be the happiest man in town today when he sealed a deal to extend his stay with Oldham Roughyeds for another year.

“It’s all sorted . . . and I’m as happy as Larry,” declared the popular Kiwi.

Having signed a new 12-months contract, the 28-year-old loose-forward said he had been swayed by the quality of the senior players who had already pinned their colours to the Roughyeds mast for 2011.

They are 12 in number — Johnny Walker, Jason Boults, Dave Ellison, John Gillam, Martin Roden, Ben Heaton, Scott Mansfield, Danny Whitmore, Chris Clarke, Luke Sutton, new boy Andy Isherwood and Bentley.

Added Valu: “It’s done and dusted and I’m chuffed to get it out of the way. I always wanted to re-sign — it was just a matter of waiting to see who else was going to commit as well.

“There are still a few more to come on board, but I’m delighted to sign up alongside the lads who’ve done it already and I’m hoping more will follow suit.”

Due to a mid-season spell when he was out injured, he played in only 16 of the club’s 28 cup and league games last season, but of those 16 games he finished a winner 13 times.

Now he is eager to have a second crack at helping Roughyeds to win promotion under the guidance of his fellow Kiwi and head coach Tony Benson.

Said Valu: “I learned a lot from Tony in year one, but I still have a lot more to learn. By the end of last season he had got me playing the best rugby I’ve ever played. I hope to carry on where I left off and maybe go even better.”

A market trader, Bentley said he and the whole squad owed a debt of gratitude to Roughyeds supporters for their loyal and vocal backing both home and away.

“Our rapport with the fans was special,” he added, “and it went bigger and better once we moved to Whitebank. They follow us away too. No wonder we won every single away game. It was just like playing at home. We even had 300 fans with us on a Friday night at London Skolars.

“No other club in that division gets backing like that. I love it — and it was a factor in my decision to stick with Roughyeds for another year.”

Though born in New Zealand, Bentley moved to France with his family at the age of ten and lived there until a couple of years ago when he settled near Leigh.

He made the Roughyeds’ loose-forward position his own last season and Benson is confident he will go from strength to strength in his second season.

“I’m delighted to have Valu back on board,” said the Oldham boss. “He has raw physical ability as well as skill, and his attitude is always first-class.

“He has a good understanding of the game and its finer points. And his ability to switch from front-row, taking us forward, to the back three, where he is called upon to be a ball player, makes him an extremely valuable member of the side.

“He’s also a high-volume defender with a good engine which allows him to keep going for long periods.

“He is positive, upbeat and a good club man. He loves the fans at Oldham, and the support they give to the whole team, and he has bought into the Oldham club and what it is trying to achieve.”

Valu’s market-trading business — he sells bedding, towels, linen etc — takes him around the region but he has a regular stall in Royton market on Thursdays, which fits in well with his rugby because the Roughyeds train on Thursday evenings.