An ultimate 13 of rugby league players born in Oldham including Warrington Wolves, Huddersfield Giants trios

Drew Darbyshire
Zach Eckersley, Marc Sneyd, Josh Thewlis Oldham Alamy

From left to right: Zach Eckersley (Wigan), Marc Sneyd (Salford) and Josh Thewlis (Warrington) in action

Throughout the summer at Love Rugby League, we’re going to be taking a geographical tour of some of rugby league’s most famous towns and cities and compiling some dream line-ups comprising of active players.

Some places will unsurprisingly throw out star-studded sides with some of the best players in the world included. But some may surprise you about the quality of stars the area has produced.

So far in this feature series, we’ve taken a look at Halifax, Widnes, Warrington, Wigan and Huddersfield

Next up: Oldham. It is far from the biggest place in the world in terms of size, but on the rugby league landscape, it has certainly contributed a lot of players – past and present. Here’s our ultimate 13 of players born or raised in the Greater Manchester town..

1. Zach Eckersley

Zach Eckersley Wigan Warriors Alamy

The 20-year-old centre or fullback highly thought of at Wigan, scoring in this year’s Challenge Cup triumph at Wembley in what was just his fifth appearance for the first team. Eckersley was born and bred in Oldham, playing his junior rugby for local community club Waterhead Warriors. His father, Chris, played for Oldham and Warrington as a winger.

NEXT GEN: Meet the former sprinter Zach Eckersley who played for Wigan Warriors at Wembley

2. Josh Thewlis

Josh Thewlis Warrington Wolves Alamy

The 22-year-old came through the academy ranks at Warrington, scoring 35 tries and kicking 41 goals in 77 first team appearances thus far. Thewlis, who has won international honours with England Knights, played his junior rugby for Waterhead Warriors before joining Warrington’s youth ranks.

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3. Jake Thewlis

Jake Thewlis Warrington Wolves Alamy

Jake is the younger brother at Josh, and has followed a similar path to his older brother, starting out at Waterhead Warriors before joining Warrington’s scholarship programme. He made his first team debut for Sam Burgess’ side earlier this year.

4. Jordan Turner

Jordan Turner Jamaica Alamy

Turner was born and raised in Oldham and attended the Radclyffe School in Chadderton. The 35-year-old is closing in on his 400th career appearance, and is currently captain of his hometown club Oldham in League 1. He has also represented Jamaica on the international scene, qualifying to play for the Reggae Warriors via his grandparents.

5. Jacob Douglas

Jacob Douglas Wigan Warriors Alamy
Jacob Douglas in action for Wigan Warriors during a 2024 pre-season friendly

Douglas made his first team debut for Wigan earlier this season, and has also enjoyed time on loan at Whitehaven, Oldham, Bradford and Barrow. The athletic winger is another product of Waterhead Warriors.

6. Olly Russell

Olly Russell Huddersfield Giants Alamy
Olly Russell lines up a conversion for Huddersfield Giants in 2024

Russell played his junior rugby for Oldham St Annes and then Wigan’s scholarship before making the move to Huddersfield’s academy. He has made 90 appearances for the Giants since making his first team debut back in 2018, and has also won international honours with England Knights.

7. Marc Sneyd

Marc Sneyd Salford Red Devils Alamy

Sneyd was born in Oldham, growing up in Shaw, and playing his junior rugby for Waterhead Warriors. The 33-year-old has gone on to become one of the finest goal-kickers Super League has seen, kicking more than 1,000 goals for Castleford, Hull and Salford. He represented England at the World Cup in 2022.

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8. Eribe Doro

Eribe Doro Bradford Bulls Alamy
Eribe Doro in action for Bradford

The 23-year-old prop was born in Derker, Oldham. He played his junior rugby at Saddleworth Rangers before coming through the ranks at Warrington. Doro, who is of Nigerian heritage, played four games for Wire whilst enjoying a lengthy loan spell with Widnes. He made a permanent move to Halifax in 2023 and then joined Bradford in the same season, where he has gone on to become one of the standout forwards in the Championship.

9. Thomas Deakin

Deakin was born in Oldham to British parents but raised in Australia, with his family making the move Down Under when he was five: he even managed to play for Oldham St Annes before heading to the land of Aus! Deakin returned to England ahead of this season after signing for Huddersfield on a two-year contract.

10. Michael Ward

Michael Ward Batley Bulldogs Alamy

If you know your Championship rugby league, then you’ll know Michael Ward is. The 33-year-old has been a mainstay of the Championship for well over a decade, making more than 300 appearances in total for Oldham and Batley. Ward has represented Ireland on the international stage, and was part of the Wolfhounds’ World Cup squad in 2022.

11. Joe Greenwood

Joe Greenwood

The former Saddleworth Rangers junior is one of the more experienced names in this Oldham line-up, having made more than 200 career appearances in Super League and the NRL. Huddersfield forward Greenwood, who won a solitary England cap in 2018, came through the academy ranks at St Helens.

12. Tom Whitehead

Tom Whitehead Warrington Wolves Alamy

Whitehead is another product of Saddleworth Rangers, having started his rugby league journey there at the age of eight. The 21-year-old, whose father John was a professional squash player, came through the academy at Warrington and has made five appearances for the club’s first team so far.

13. James Greenwood

James Greenwood Salford Red Devils Alamy

James Greenwood is the older brother of Joe, who is also in this Oldham XIII. The 33-year-old started his rugby league journey with Saddleworth Rangers before coming through Wigan’s academy. Greenwood made more than 100 appearances in Super League for Wigan, London, Hull KR and Salford, and is now plying his trade for Barrow in the Championship.

Bench

Jack Sinfield, Fenton Rogers, Nolan Tupaea, Harvey Wilson.

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