Wards signs new deal

Date published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

THE sums added up when maths teacher Michael Ward (22) discussed a new contract with Oldham RL Club chairman Chris Hamilton.

Prominently featured on coach Scott Naylor’s 2014 signing hit list, the strong-running prop has penned a new deal to join his fellow forwards Phil Joy, Danny Langtree, Sam Gee and Josh Crowley on next season’s Roughyeds’ roster.

Ward, who teaches at New Charter Academy in Ashton, said he was pleased to get signing talks out of the way before Sunday’s play-off final against Rochdale at Leigh.

“We’ve had a productive year with the best team I’ve ever played in,” said Ward, who initially joined his home-town club as a 16-year-old winger.

“Now I can’t wait to get on the pitch in the final. We’re a confident camp.

“If we can reproduce a performance like the one that stung London Skolars the score will take care of itself.

“In any case we owe Rochdale one. Under Scott and ‘Spanner’ (assistant boss Lee Spencer) everything about our coaching, training and conditioning has been supremely professional all season.

“Win or lose on Sunday I’ll be here next year, but losing isn’t an option.

“I’ve always preferred back-row to prop, but I’m getting accustomed to playing up front.

“Scott tells me prop is my best position. He likes to use me off the bench as a forward who can make an impact.”

Roughyeds head for their fifth final in seven years buoyed by the selection of full-back Richard Lepori and centre Jon Ford in the Championship One all-stars team of the season.

Ford’s 19 tries in league and play-offs make him the most prolific try scorer in the division, while Lepori and hooker Adam Files are among five nominees for the young-player-of-the-year award, to be presented at Thursday’s Kingstone Press end-of-season black tie dinner.

Team of the year: Lepori (OLDHAM), Grant (South Wales), Ford (OLDHAM), Caton-Brown (Hemel), Massam (North Wales), Moulsdale (North Wales), Skee (London), Thomas (London), McConnell (North Wales),Thompson (Rochdale), Hepi (Gloucester), Middlehurst (North Wales), Smith (North Wales).

Lepori has played twice for Italy in recent weeks, scoring three tries against Germany and picking up the man-of-the-man award against Serbia, but he has missed out on selection for Italy’s World Cup squad.

Club chairman Chris Hamilton, meanwhile, has urged Oldham people to get behind the Roughyeds’ bid to win promotion after seven years in the sport’s third tier.

He said: “The players are worthy finalists and they fully deserve to have a huge Oldham following behind them for what they have achieved already this season.

“We’ve had a great journey. We hope to reach our destination. The boys are desperate to put on a winning performance for the fans and the club, and we hope as many Oldhamers as possible will be there to see it.”

Seat tickets priced at £15 and £20 (concessions £10) are on sale from Whitebank each day up to and including Friday from 10am to 1pm and from 5pm to 6.30pm. Coach travel is available at £10.