OLDHAM boss Scott Naylor has been suspended for four matches by an independent operational rules tribunal of the RFL.
He got one match on a grade B charge for questioning a referee’s decision in Oldham’s 50-6 win against North Wales Crusaders plus three more matches, suspended from a previous case.
The hearing was adjourned a fortnight ago because match officials weren’t in attendance and resumed last night (Tues) when Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton was there to represent his club’s head coach.
The four-match ban means Naylor can’t be part of the Roughyeds’ game-day operation in crucial clashes with Newcastle Thunder, Coventry Bears, York City Knights and Bradford Bulls.
Naylor’s assistant coach Pete Carey will be in charge, starting with Sunday’s trip to Newcastle Thunder (3pm kick-off).
In terms of play-off qualification it’s another ‘must win’ game for Roughyeds, who will move up to third in Betfred League 1 if they make it a league double and Workington Town go down at leaders Bradford Bulls.
Naylor’s men won 28-12 when Thunder played at the Vestacare Stadium in May.
Said the Roughyeds boss: “They’re a good side. We had to play very well indeed to beat them at our place and up there we expect another tough battle.
“They’re experienced, dangerous, they like to play quick, expansive rugby and they like playing at home.
“It’s a very important game for us and, like Whitehaven last Sunday, it’s one we have to win.
“We’ll be looking for other results to go our way, but we have no control over those and the one thing we must do is look after our own backyard.
“It’s a game that’s just as important to us as the Whitehaven game last Sunday.”
He said Roughyeds came unscathed through that 20-0 win and that he will again be picking from 23 available players, including on-loan winger Lee Kershaw.
Whitehaven player-coach Carl Forster, meanwhile, has given a fascinating insight into how opponents view Oldham’s experienced stand-off and goalkicker Paul Crook.
Crook helped the Cumbrians to get to last year’s Promotion Final and then figured prominently in the Roughyeds’ impressive win against his former club last Sunday.
Forster has since gone public with this assessment of his ex team mate:”You know you’re going to get that (game management) when you play against Crooky.
“I think he was really under-appreciated last season.
“You don’t really get Crooky until you play with him or watch him closely and then when you do come up against him he crucifies you for it.
“He’s that experienced head that we probably lack. He’s a great player.
“If you give him the chance to organise and to kick his goals he’ll put you to the sword.”
It was the first time in the history of Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd that Roughyeds have beaten opponents home and away without conceding a single point.