Roughyeds sign a Warrior
Former Wigan Warriors youngster Luke Rhoden has pledged his future to Oldham Roughyeds by signing a two-year contract.
The 20-year-old Academy international spent several weeks at Oldham late last season and, having arrived in late July, he played a few games in the Reserves on a short-term agreement to the end of the year.
He had become disenchanted at Wigan and had been out of the game for some time before he secured his release. Gary Sykes tipped off Roughyeds and Rhoden was immediately invited to the club for talks in the hope that he might rekindle his enthusiasm for the sport.
His try-scoring debut against Widnes Reserves in a 32-30 defeat at Sedgley Park on August 1 sent out a clear message that here was a player who could do Oldham a lot of good.
Roughyeds retained their interest through the close season and their persistence paid dividends when Rhoden put pen to paper on a deal which ties him to the club for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
He was pencilled in to figure as a substitute in the Law Cup clash at Rochdale which was postponed last Sunday; rescheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) night, and again postponed; and has now been rearranged for Sunday,January 24 (kick-off 3.00pm).
Announcing his signing today, Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton said: "We always hoped that we could help to give him back his appetite for rugby league, and it appears that we have done exactly that.
"He had fallen out with the game after what happened at Wigan so this is something of a rebuilding process, although Luke has already shown enough technical knowledge, ability and commitment to be offered a professional contract. We are delighted that he will now be with us for the next two years at least."
A product of the famous Wigan St Pat's junior section, Rhoden was promoted from Wigan Warriors' under-16s to their under-18s Junior Academy squad in the summer of 2005.
In October that year he was a substitute in a Wigan side that beat Leeds Rhinos at Headingley in the Junior Academy Grand Final.
Joe Chandler, another new signing by Oldham this year, was in the Leeds team, while the Wigan line-up included the likes of Thomas Coyle, who was at Oldham last year, Oldhamers Lee Jewitt and Eamon O'Carroll, Sam Tomkins, now a Super League star, and Chris Ashton, who is making a name for himself with Northampton Saints in Rugby Union's Guinness Premiership.
Two years ago Rhoden, then 18, was one of 12 Academy stars signed by Wigan on new contracts after he had spent much of 2007 in the Warriors' Senior Academy squad, coached by Shaun Wane and including players of the calibre of Thomas Coyle, Mark Flanagan and Joel and Sam Tomkins.
His signing by Oldham further underlines the club's commitment to a youth policy which has seen the recent arrival of several players aged 21 or under, among them Danny Whitmore from Salford City Reds; Ben Mellor from Warrington Wolves; Kashley Watkins and Joe Chandler from Leeds Rhinos; and Jack Graves from Harlequins RL.
Two of the club's home-made youngsters, Ben Heaton and Chris Clarke, have been elevated to the first-team squad while five more have been signed from the Reserves on two-year professional contracts, namely Michael Ward, Austen Barrowclough, Jacob Kinney, Ross Coates and Rhoden.