Roughyeds sign another Warrior
Oldham Roughyeds have completed a double act with the capture on a two-year contract of former Wigan Warriors centre or wing Mike Priest.
Aged 21, he comes with an almost identical background to that of the versatile Luke Rhoden (20), whose signing on a similar deal was announced by the Roughyeds yesterday.
They both started out at Wigan St Pat's; represented Wigan's Service Area teams; spent four years with Wigan Warriors' development and Academy squads; won Academy international honours; and fell out with the game after leaving Wigan because they could see little chance of first-team opportunities.
The similarities do not end there. They were both persuaded by Oldham last summer to put their Wigan disappointments behind them and try again --- and they both impressed while playing for Roughyeds Reserves on short-term agreements.
"As you might expect they are also great pals," said Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton. "They've been through a lot together and we are delighted that we have been able to re-ignite their passion for the game.
"We got them to Oldham in the first place on the basis of a trial run -- not that we ever doubted their abilities, but we needed to know if we could rekindle their enjoyment of rugby and their enthusiasm for kick-starting their careers.
"It also gave them an opportunity to see what we as a club were all about and the fact that they have each committed to two years with us says a lot, I think, about both them and us. They are raring to go
"Having said that, I hope the big freeze in Oldham doesn't dampen their enthusiasm. They came into the office to sign their contracts after training outdoors in freezing conditions and their fingers were so cold they couldn't hold a pen!"
Like Rhoden, Priest has had the experience of spending four years working alongside some of the brightest prospects in rugby league at one of the sport's most highly acclaimed centres of exellence.
His signing takes to 15 the number of players aged 21 or under now under contract to the Roughyeds, and most of them will have a realistic chance of pushing for first-team recognition.
Nine of them, including Rhoden and Priest, were in the squad for the Law Cup game at Rochdale, now rescheduled for Sunday, January 24 (kick-off 3.00pm).
Roughyeds are due to travel to Whitehaven on Sunday for Howard Hill's testimonial game and then play Batley at Mount Pleasant the following Sunday, January 17 (2.00pm kick-off).
Head coach Tony Benson, a man fully committed to a youth policy, was delighted to land Rhoden and to secure also the services of Priest, his pal and team mate of several years.
"I enjoyed plenty of reserve-grade rugby last season," said Tony, "and I was excited by the potential of a lot of the players, hence the number of signings we have made already from the second team.
"Luke (Rhoden) stood out for his speed and power with ball in hand. He was extremely difficult to contain in every game.
"He knows he has work to do on his fitness, but he is up for the challenge and he will be pushing for a first-team spot as the season progresses.
"As for Mike (Priest) he is also very quick and he has the skills of a player who has been through the Wigan Academy. He has good game awareness and he impressed me greatly both with ball in hand and also on defence.
"He is also a genuine contender for an outside backs spot in the first team."