Leigh Leopards forward becomes latest high-profile Oldham signing for 2024 in player-coach role

Drew Darbyshire
Joe Wardle Leigh Leopards Alamy

Leigh Leopards forward Joe Wardle

League 1 club Oldham have signed experienced forward Joe Wardle from Super League outfit Leigh Leopards on a two-year contract from 2024.

The former Scotland international will depart the Leopards upon the expiry of his contract at the end of the season and take up the two-year deal with promotion-chasing League 1 side Oldham.

Wardle has made more than 200 career appearances for Scotland, Bradford, Newcastle Knights, Castleford, Huddersfield and Leigh.

The 31-year-old back-rower will combine his playing duties alongside being an assistant coach with the Roughyeds next year.

On signing for Oldham, Wardle told the Oldham club website: “After speaking with Mike (Ford, managing director) and listening to the vision he had of bringing Oldham back to the good times, and getting the town on side, it reminded me of when I first signed for Leigh and what Derek Beaumont was trying to achieve there.

“It just felt like the right move for me and I’m buzzing to have signed and to be a part of what the club is trying to achieve.

“I’m a really aggressive player, I get stuck in, I’m a good line runner and I think of myself as a bit of a leader as well.

“I want stuff to be done the right way, so I will be holding people accountable in that sense.

“I’m a hard-working, honest guy and I think I’ve still got a lot to offer so I’ll be imparting all my knowledge of the game on the lads.”

Mike Ford delighted to welcome Joe Wardle to Oldham

Wardle becomes the sixth permanent signing since the new board took over the club in March, with Pat Moran, Nick Rawsthorne, Josh Johnson and Jamie Ellis already onboard, with Castleford’s Jordan Turner and Wardle to arrive in pre-season.

Oldham managing director Mike Ford said: “We’ve been able to attract another Super League player because of our vision, purpose and where we want to go as a club.

“The thing which impressed me the most was that he wanted to come and play for Oldham regardless of what league we were in.

“He can see what we are trying to build with the club and he has a willingness and an ambition to coach as well.

“Outside of the top six clubs, we want to have the best coaching structure there is in the sport, and bringing him in as player-assistant helps us to do that.

“First and foremost, Joe is coming in as a player, but he’s also going to mentor our forwards.

“We want to have a fantastic playing environment where we put the player first so that we can develop people.”

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