OLDHAM Rugby League Club’s long-serving club captain Gareth Owen has signed a new one-year contract, at the end of which he will have been at his hometown club for seven and a half seasons, five of them as captain.

Having joined Roughyeds from Salford Red Devils, where he had played 38 Super League games, Owen wore Oldham colours for the first time in a 24-23 home win against Hunslet on July 27, 2014.

Of the playrs on duty that day only Phil Joy, Owen himself and Danny Langtree were still at the club for this curtailed 2020 campaign.

Apart from a period when he suffered a freak foot injury, hooker Owen has been an automatic choice at hooker for all the time he has been at the club, making a total of 137 appearances and scoring 16 tries.

In his first season at Oldham he was in the side that lost 17-16 to Hunslet in the 2014 Grand Final at Headingley after a golden-point extra-time drop goal.

A year later though he was in the side that won the first of his two promotions, either side of the 2017 relegation when the side was ravaged by injury, including Owen’s mysterious foot complaint – the only time in his career that he has been sidelined for any length of time. When he was offered a new contract to cover the 2021 season there was never any doubt that he would again sign on the dotted line.

He said: “I’m buzzing. So long as the decision was mine, I wasn’t going anywhere. I only want to play for Oldham.

“It’s been a terrible year with no rugby and, like the other lads, I can’t wait to get going again.

“I’ve been working through the pandemic but with no training and no games, I’ve had lots of time on my hands and I’ve been playing loads of golf and doing a bit of cycling to try to keep in reasonable condition.

“We look to be getting a good squad together and we seem to be investing in a big, mobile pack which will help Wilky (Matthew Wilkinson) and me and hopefully set the platform for the backs to do the rest.”

Head coach Matt Diskin, himself a hooker in his playing days, said of Owen: “He’s captain of the club and very important to the squad and to the team,.

“He’s genuinely passionate about the club, the team and the town and when a local lad cares like that and also has the experience and the ability that Gaz has, then he is naturally a very important member of the team and the club.”

Roughyeds have confirmed nine players who are contracted for 2021 including new boys Tyler Dupree, Luke Nelmes and Tommy Brierley.

Lewis Charnock and Matthew Fletcher are on two-year deals while Danny Langtree, Matty Wilkinson, Dave Hewitt and Owen have also signed new contracts.