Hope repays Naylor’s faith

Date published: 29 October 2015

Will Hope, currently starring for Ireland in the European Championship, will play a lead role for promoted Oldham next season predicts coach Scott Naylor.

Back-row forward Hope (22) was out of the sport and a free agent when Naylor lured him to Whitebank last July. Four weeks and a dozen training sessions later he was named at loose-forward against Swinton Lions in the final home game of the regular season.

It was a baptism of fire for the ex-Salford man, who kept his place in the side that lifted the League Leaders’ Shield at Oxford and eight days later smashed Keighley Cougars at Whitebank in the promotion final.

Hope has now repaid Naylor for rescuing his career by signing a one-year contract.

Naylor said: “He was outstanding in our last three games and now we’ve got him for all next season I expect him to be one of our top lads in the Championship and certainly one of our leaders on the field.

“He lost his way a little bit at Salford and he had been out of the game for quite a while when we got him down to Whitebank. He immediately looked comfortable.

“If he can play as well as he did in our last three games after being out for nearly a year, I can’t wait to see him in action when he has had a full pre-season with us.”

Sheffield and Ireland coach Mark Aston was so impressed with his form in the promotion final he recalled him to the Ireland squad. In the last fortnight Hope has enhanced his reputation by winning unofficial Irish man of the match awards against France and Scotland.

Hope said: “I’m enjoying my rugby again and that’s down to Scott Naylor inviting me down to see what was happening at Oldham. I absolutely loved the last few weeks of last season. We’re all good mates, and that’s part of Oldham’s strength.

“By the time the squad is finalised I’m sure we’ll be capable of causing one or two upsets.”