Busting a gut for Roughyeds

Date published: 25 March 2011

A DEFIANT Tony Benson has promised that his patched-up Roughyeds will fight to the finish in a bid to silence the Swinton Lions’ roar at the Whitebank Stadium on Sunday (3pm kick-off).

Centre Ben Wood (ankle) and hooker Martin Roden (hamstring) were passed fit last night, but that still left three players definitely out and another five struggling to be ready in time.

The thumbs-up for Wood and assistant coach Roden came as welcome relief for the Oldham coach, who has drafted in Alistair Williams and Michael Ward and who may have to go back to the reserves for more reinforcements before his injury-stricken squad completes its preparations tomorrow morning.

Williams, who has earned a contract on the strength of his performances last

season in the reserves, looks certain to get his big chance on Sunday, either at centre or on the wing.

The 23-year-old former Waterhead junior had three years at Warrington Wolves as a contracted academy player following an eight-month stay on scholarship at Wigan Warriors.

When his contract at Warrington expired four years ago he had a brief spell on trial with Roughyeds, but nothing materialised and he joined local amateurs Hollinwood.

He was promoted to Oldham’s senior squad last November at the same time as another outstanding member of last year’s reserves team — Mick Diveney.

Benson’s casualty list includes the three who are definitely out — John Gillam, Marcus St Hilaire and Matthew Fogarty — plus Ben Heaton (tonsillitis), Luke Sutton (dead leg), Dave Ellison (ankle), skipper Neil Roden (groin) and Tom Wood-Hulme (back and neck).

Props Sutton and Ellison were hurt at Workington, while Neil Roden damaged his groin during training on Tuesday and Wood-Hulme sustained his injuries in a road accident in St Helens on Wednesday.

The Roughyeds boss said: “We are in a backs-to-the-wall situation, but we’ll come out of it stronger as a squad.

“Whoever plays on Sunday will wear the shirt with pride, make no mistake about that. We’ll have regular players out of action, but we’ve got faith in each other and faith in the boys who will be coming in.”

Benson has taken the unusual step of not announcing a squad.

He added: “At this stage, there is absolutely no point. But there will be 17 Roughyeds blokes out there on Sunday and each will be busting a gut.”

The Lions also have their problems. Dean Thompson (knee), Alex Hurst (ankle) and Neil Rigby (face and ankle) were hurt at Rochdale last Sunday, while Richie Hawkyard is trying to shrug off a hamstring injury.

ROUGHYEDS reserves entertain Keighley Cougars at the Whitebank Stadium tomorrow (2.30pm kick-off).