SADDLEWORTH Rangers hosted the first of a series of training camps that Betfred Super League champions Leeds Rhinos are to hold in the area to help identify and develop promising young players.
Around 40 of the top players aged between 11-14 years from Rangers, Waterhead Warriors and OIdham St Annes gathered at Shaw Hall Bank Road under the watchful of a number of Rhinos’ coaches, including Simon Bell, their head of youth.
And a group of U13 players from this area have also visited Rhinos’ training headquarters at Kirkstall, Leeds, where they had a training session as well as viewing the facilities.
Darrel Rogers, who coaches Rhinos’ juniors including Kevin Sinfield’s son Jack, is excited by the prospect of the link up with the Super League club.
He said: “Rhinos realise Oldham is a hotbed, the likes of Paul Sculthorpe, Barrie McDermott, Kevin Sinfield and Iestyn Harris who have played at the highest level.
“That is why Rhinos approached me to get involved.
“Instead of picking out the best two or three players, they are keen to develop a group of players which is great because youngsters grow and develop at different rates.
“Kids may not be the quickest and strongest at the moment, but may be a couple of years down the line.
“They also get to experience what it is like at Rhinos as a team and, from what we have seen, the players are working harder to improve their game and hopefully it will prevent some drifting out of rugby.”
Darrel added it is intended to expand the scheme to cover the whole of Oldham and maybe also include the likes of Rochdale Mayfield.
And if it is successful, Darrel says it could possible lead to the Oldham town team being reformed after many years.
Darrel played locally for Higginshaw and Waterhead as well as spells in the pro ranks at Oldham RL and Swinton before turning to coaching with Rangers’ junior sides.