Saint Matt makes step up

OLDHAM St Annes coach Paul Green has been left beaming with pride after player Matt Whitehead made the step up to rugby league’s semi-professional ranks.

Matt Whitehead

The back-rower has been snapped up by Rochdale Hornets after a successful trial, swapping the National Conference League for the Championship.

And Green is more than happy to see the 23-year-old, whose father was a director at Oldham RLFC, head elsewhere.

Especially as Jack McCarthy also featured for Super League side Salford’s reserve team in their match against Huddersfield.

Paul said: “We’re very pleased as a club.

“It’s our aim for players to go on in the pro game. Hopefully if we have a successful season, a few more will sign on at clubs too.”

St Annes’ season preparations ended with a friendly against Dewsbury Moor before they face Askam in the opening league game of the season on Saturday, February 22.

But with a place in the Standard Cup final against Saddleworth Rangers on Good Friday already booked, Paul believes his side can make an impact in 2020.

He added: “I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season. All the players have played in at least two friendlies and they are still fighting for their shirts.

“We are in a fortunate position because our a team play in a very high standard league, so our squad should be strong.

“Our aim is promotion but so will every team’s in the NCL but if the lads keep putting the effort in we should be there or thereabouts.”

Whitehead’s deal with Hornets came after he made the bench against former Super League side Widnes in pre-season.

“I’m made up with being offered a contract,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get going now. It will be good to get some experience at this level and challenge myself more than ever.

“I know I’ve got to be at my best and keep working hard to earn my stripes in the team.”

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