Ward wants more

Date published: Thursday, November 3, 2011

OLDHAM RL Club’s up-and-coming young forward Michael Ward, a product of the Roughyeds’ youth policy, has signed a new one-year contract.

Aged 20, he has already had four seasons with his hometown club — as an amateur in 2008 and 2009 and as a pro, on a two-year agreement, in 2010 and 2011.

By signing a new deal he takes to ten the number of players aged 23 or under who are on contract for the 2012 season.

The others are Jamie Dallimore, Danny Langtree, David Cookson, Shaun Robinson, Alex Thompson, Danny Whitmore, Liam Gilchrist, Chris Clarke and the youngest member of the senior squad, 19-year-old Matthew Fogarty.

“In his six senior games last season Michael showed he has a lot to offer,” said coach Tony Benson, “and I expect him to kick-on in 2012. Playing for his hometown club means a lot to him.”

Ward, who is studying for a maths degree at Manchester Metropolitan University, was a key member of John Hough’s trophy-winning reserve team pack last season — and whenever he was asked to step up to senior duty he did so with aplomb.

He said: “I hope to get an early chance in the first team again, and then it will be up to me to make the most of the opportunity.

“We’ve all been told what is expected of us next season, and we’ve set goals which are very attainable.

“In rugby, I would like nothing better than to be part of a promotion-winning side next season and then to stay with Oldham in the higher division and take any opportunities that come along.”

Ward, who played as a boy for Oldham St Anne’s and Oldham RU Club, was introduced to Roughyeds as a 17-year-old by by Leo Casey, who was John Hough’s assistant coach in the reserve team’s first season.

The teenage hopeful joined Roughyeds on a wing and a prayer.

“Leo told me they needed a winger,” he recalled, “and he advised me to have a go at it if only to get a foot in the door. I was willing to take the chance and as things have turned out it was the best move I ever made.”