New-look Panthers will be on the prowl at Bower Fold

Date published: 28 February 2021


Oldham Rugby League fans will get an early look at Matt Diskin's reshaped squad when Halifax Panthers go to Bower Fold on Saturday, March 13 (kick-off 4pm) in a pre-season match to be streamed live on Our League.

Fans will be locked out, but both sets are likely to provide big online viewing figures, given that it's 12 months since they last watched their favourites in action and they've been starved of their weekly fix.

Another attraction will be the number of new players on view in both squads, Oldham with 13 fresh faces (out of a squad of 28), Halifax with eight.

Viewing will be free to season-ticket holders, but Roughyeds officials hope lots of others will tune in to offset costs and closed turnstiles.

A week earlier, on Saturday, March 6 (1.30pm), Roughyeds go to Featherstone for a similar friendly behind closed doors as coach Matt Diskin looks to give his squad plenty of full-contact preparation for the 2021 big kick-off against Barrow Raiders in the first round of the Betfred Challenge Cup on the last weekend in March.

Said Diskin: "I'm happy that we've been able to arrange friendlies against Featherstone and Halifax - two clubs who have always been there or thereabouts in the Championship.

"They are both promotion contenders and both have strengthened well for 2021, so both games will be a good barometer for me to know exactly where we stand - and that's what we want from pre-season games."

Diskin's 13 new boys are Tyler Dupree, Martyn Reilly, Luke Nelmes, Shaun Pick and Liam Kirk (forwards), and Tommy Brierley, Ben Heaton, Ben Holcroft, Max Roberts, Callum Greem, James Barran, Ryan Ince and Joe Hartley (backs).

The Halifax game will be a special day for Oldham centre Ben Heaton, who began his career at Oldham but then had eight seasons in Halifax's blue and white hoops, making more than 100 appearances before returning to his Roughyeds roots via a short stint with Hunslet.

How ironic if he is directly opposed by Zack McComb, who became a firm favourite among Oldham fans before opting for Sheffield Eagles and later signing for Fax, his home-town club.

Said Diskin: "I'm very happy about both our friendlies.

"They will both test us to the hilt and that's exactly what we want from this sort of game."

Oldham's early-season games (all behind closed doors):

Sat, March 6,   Featherstone Rovers    A     1.30pm

                 (Friendly)

Sat, March 13,  Halifax Panthers          H      4pm

                  (Friendly)

Sat, March 20  Barrow Raiders              H      12.45pm

                  (Challenge Cup, round 1)

Sat/Sun, March 27,28, Challenge Cup, round 2

Good Friday, April 2 Swinton Lions        H      3pm

            (Betfred Championship)


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