OLDHAM RL kick off their crucial 2013 campaign with two warm-up games in February – the first at Whitebank against a Salford City Reds squad on Sunday, February 10 and the second at Rochdale for the Law Cup on Sunday, February 17, both kicking off at 3pm.
Fans will get their first look at Scott Naylor’s hugely revamped squad, including a dozen new signings, against a strong Salford outfit that will comprise those full-time professionals who are not on Super League duty that weekend plus the bulk of the club’s top youngsters.
“It will be our only warm-up game on home soil, so we hope fans will get behind the boys, who won’t play at Whitebank after that until Rochdale come here in the Northern Rail Cup on Sunday, March 10,” said Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton.
Admission prices are roughly half normal rates – £7 adults, £5 concessions, £3 under-16s and the usual £2 transfer to seats.
The Oldham team will be led out for the first time by newly-appointed captain Lewis Palfrey, who says he is “proud and privileged” to become club captain in his first season with the Roughyeds.
He got an invitation to become club captain from coach Naylor and he didn’t need twice asking.
“I was surprised, but absolutely delighted,” said the former Salford, Whitehaven and Batley utility back, who will be 23 this month.
“I’ve skippered teams in the past — Salford Academy and Salford reserves — but this one will carry with it a lot more responsibility.
“I’m made up. I can’t wait to lead out the team for the first time.”
One of 12 new signings, Palfrey will head a young squad which includes ten players who are 21 or under and, setting aside former captain Neil Roden (32) and prop Jason Boults (29), has an average age of 22.
After being coached at Salford by both Naylor and his now Oldham No 2, Lee Spencer, Palfrey signed for Whitehaven where, in 2011, he made 23 appearances, mainly at stand-off, amassing 160 points from 68 goals and six tries.
Last season he played 12 times for Championship club Batley Bulldogs, mainly off the bench, but starting at stand-off in a 34-22 Northern Rail Cup win at Featherstone and picking up his team’s best-player award, as judged by League Express.
He ended the season back at Whitehaven on loan. The Cumbrians had Jamie Rooney starring at stand-off by then, but Palfrey occupied the full-back shirt in each of the seven games available to him.
Since signing for Oldham last November and teaming up once again with Naylor and Spencer, he has been suitably impressed by the squad’s preparation for the new season.