Whitehaven lineup

Date published: Friday, July 1, 2011

OLDHAM RL boss Tony Benson has confirmed that on-loan Leeds Rhinos youngsters Callum Casey and Danny Bravo will make their home debuts against high-flying Whitehaven at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm).

Benson is playing it cagey, so much so that he has announced his 20-man squad in alphabetical rather than positional order, but the two 21-year-olds from the Rhinos’ conveyor belt of up-and-coming talent will definitely figure in the 17.

At Gateshead last Sunday, Bravo played the full game in the second-row, while Casey made his bow off the bench and adopted the role of a midfield link in the style of a third half-back or an old-fashioned ball-playing loose-forward.

“He’s a very gifted player, no doubt about that,” said club skipper Neil Roden. “He sent in John Clough for a first-half try with a pass that had ‘class’ written all over it.

“It was good to have a talent like that in the middle of the field, but I’ve got to admit that it seemed strange to think I used to be in the same Oldham team as his dad Leo ten years ago. We were both in the 2001 Grand Final team, Leo at prop and I was at scrum-half.”

Benson has given a vote of confidence to the squad that won 52-16 in the North-East, adding only Valu Bentley and Ben Wood to the 17 who played plus Michael Ward, who travelled as reserve.

The following 20 will be cut to 17 and a reserve at training tomorrow:

Squad: Bentley, Boults, Bravo, Brocklehurst, Casey, Clough, Ellison, Fogarty, Forber, Heaton, Isherwood, McCully, Noone, Robinson, M Roden, N Roden, Stenchion, Sutton, Ward, Wood.

Roughyeds believe that, with four of their remaining seven games at home, they can finish in the top four if they can string a few wins together and benefit from consistently good performances.

Consistency has not been a hallmark of their season so far — they are seeking a third consecutive victory for the first time — but the feeling in the camp is that they are perking up at just the right time.

“We feel confident as a group,” said Benson, “and we believe we have a game plan for Whitehaven that will get the better of them.”

The Cumbrians have lost only one league game all season, but their form in recent outings, including last week’s 22-10 win against derby rivals Workington, has been somewhat patchy.

“We’ll need to do better to win at Oldham,” said coach David Seeds. “I was satisfied with the three points we got from the Workington game, but it wasn’t the performance I was looking for.

“Oldham are just outside the chasing pack and they will be up for this one, buoyed by the arrival of the two young guys from Leeds.”

Scott McAvoy is doubtful with a back injury sustained in training, while Derry Eilbeck will almost certainly miss out, having taken a nasty blow to a cheekbone in a midweek Nines tournament.

Roughyeds reserves, in third place, play leaders Widnes Vikings away tomorrow (2.30) with a 20-man squad which includes prop Tom Wood-Hulme, back after three months out with a broken hand.

Chris Dean and Danny Langtree are also back after injury, but winger John Gillam is unavailable due to work commitments.

Reserves (from): Thomson, Williams, Barber, Bridge, Dean, Eyres, Cookson, Bradbury, Dallimore, Knight, Langtree, Hughes, Bland, Ward, Joy, Bingham, Nield, Connick, Cotton, Wood-Hulme.