Gareth Walker hears the targets of the new Oldham coach
Stuart Littler is back in domestic coaching, refreshed and ready for a new challenge.
The former Salford, Leigh, Swinton and Rochdale centre parted company with the Lions in July after four years at the helm.
Now he is charged with re-igniting the fortunes of neighbours Oldham, with both clubs having dropped down to League 1.
“I’d never had a rest since playing, so it was nice to get a bit of a break and spend some time with my family,” Littler explained.
“I had no intention of getting sacked, but it is what it is – that’s sport, people made some choices and life goes on, no-one died.
“It gave me a good chance to reflect, go over what successes I’d had and what I needed to work on and improve both personally and within an organisation.
“I spent some quality time with my family and it tied in quite nicely with being the school holidays for summer – for once I could go away with them, not abroad but a few places in England and Wales.
“But I still kept an eye on everything – I’m a bit of a rugby nerd anyway and still watched as many games as I could.
“I still had that passion burning in me, I was just looking for the right opportunity moving forward.
“After speaking to Chris (Oldham Chairman Hamilton) I decided to take that role and try and build something.
“After meeting Chris and the other board members and hearing their passion and vision, and where they saw me fitting in, I saw the scope to try and create something.
“It’s the chance to build something from nothing, a blank canvas.
“You can go into teams and they’ve already been recruited, and you can end up with 18 players you don’t want.
“If nobody’s signed you get to veto who comes in or out.
“I want good people at Oldham that will take ownership and allow us to grow in the community.
“I realise it’s a big job, there’s no question of that with where Rugby League is at in terms of funding streams and sponsorship.
“There are tasks on and off the pitch – my job is to improve every player within that organisation.”
Littler made his most eye-catching recruit to date last week with the familiar face of Martyn Ridyard and says there will be more to come.
“We’ve passed double figures, so we’re getting there,” Littler said.
“It’s a strange market, it’s not like other years where people were panicking to sign players up.
“People are still talking because of the difficulties with funding and the fact some clubs have only just known what competition they’re playing in.
“The next few weeks will determine where people end up.
“I’m happy with where we’re going and Chris is working really hard behind the scenes with agents, players and contacts at other clubs.
“But we do need a few more players in, I’m not going to lie.
“We’ve moving fast with that and have a lot more on board now than when we started.
“The difficulty has been with start dates being up in the air, and when League 1, the Challenge Cup and friendlies will start.
“We’re waiting for feedback on that, but we’re looking at starting pre-season in early November time.”
The added ingredient for Littler this year will be local derbies with his former club Swinton and Rochdale, now run by the board that appointed him at the Lions.
“It’s just the way it’s panned out,” Littler added.
“It’s strange – when I was at Swinton in the Championship, we played Rochdale first and then Oldham.
“Now things have flipped and all the Cumbrian teams have been promoted – which has been fully deserved through their performances – and the three Lancashire teams are in League 1.
“Local derbies are always interesting and there will be even more spice in it for me next year.
“I’m looking forward to it.
“I love Rugby League, and whether I’m involved or not I’ll always be watching it.
“I care about what happens to the game of Rugby League, the passion burning inside me is as good as ever and I’m ready to hit the ground running.
“I still feel I’ve got lots to give and I’m looking forward to demonstrating that.”
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