News / Rugby League

Chris Smith: Haydock head coach wanted to avoid Oldham

Haydock are the only community club still left in the competition.

When Oldham were drawn as their fourth round opponents in rugby league’s Challenge Cup Haydock head coach Chris Smith instantly realized the challenge awaiting his team.

The North West Men’s League Champions negotiated London-based Wests Warriors in the last stage to set up a clash with the Roughyeds.

“Oldham’s a tough game and to be honest it was one of the teams I didn’t want,” he said.

“I was hoping for an Oxford or something like that because I think we’ve got a team where we could go down there or they could come up here and we’d beat them.

“On the other side of the spectrum one of the big clubs where you’d stand to gain a bit more financially would’ve been nice.”

After guiding his side to a historic victory over the Warriors in the Challenge Cup third round Smith admitted he was surprised by their physicality.

“Personally I underestimated them a little bit because I wasn’t expecting them to be as physical as they were,” he said.

“They threw everything at us in the first half but to be fair to our guys our defence stood up to their attack.”

When the match came to an end Smith described how happy he was for everyone involved with the club, including the travelling support.

“It was great for the boys and the club because Haydock’s such a small community and it’s all about rugby there,” he told Love Rugby League.

“I think we had 120-odd fans come down on buses supporting us so I think that made it a bit more special to share it with them as well.”

When asked about the scale of the achievement Smith explained it is a moment that will be remembered for a long time.

Outside of the National Conference, the Yickers are the first amateur side to make it as far as the fourth round.

“To get to this stage from the level we’re at is something that’s going to be in history and can never be changed,” he added.

“I think I said it in another interview I was quite nervous before the game for the boys and for the team and for everybody involved with the club but after the game it was a great feeling.”

Smith insisted Haydock are one of the lesser-known clubs in the area and he hopes the run they’ve had will encourage the local council to provide some financial help.

“It’s mad because we probably have about 12 teams in the St Helens area and Haydock are quite overlooked,” he said.

“We’re not one of your big clubs like Thatto Heath, Brook or Pilks.

“Hopefully it’s going to help with maybe a bit of funding from the council and things like that to promote so we can get a better stadium, ground and facilities.”

Should Haydock upset the odds once again and beat Oldham Smith is hoping for a clash with Leeds.

The Rhinos have won the competition 13 times, most recently blowing away Hull KR 50-0 in the 2015 final.

“I’ve been thinking we’re going to end up with Leeds Rhinos all the way through,” he said.

“That’d be a great day out there to play against them so I’m hoping my prediction comes good.”

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