Super League winner Jordan Turner fulfilling long ambition at ‘reinvigorated’ Oldham

Oldham’s fortunes have been turned around following a change of ownership and the recruitment of hometown boy Jordan Turner from Castleford Tigers is a mark of their ambition.

FORMER St Helens Super League Grand Final winner Jordan Turner revealed there is ‘nowhere else’ he would rather be at this stage of his career than hometown club Oldham.

The 35-year-old joined his new side after spending the last three campaigns playing in the Super League with Castleford Tigers.

Turner could have easily remained at the top level, though the chance of representing his hometown club proved too good to turn down. 

“I’m loving life at Oldham at the minute,” said Turner who was born just 500 metres from Boundary Park at Oldham Royal Hospital. 

“I’m 35 now and I thought about hanging up the boots, but I think there’s a little bit more in me. The opportunity came up at Oldham and it reinvigorated me. I’m loving what we’re doing here. 

“I’m an Oldham boy, I’m very passionate about getting the club back up and running. Getting it back up to heights. That start has been really good. The challenge now is to be able to prolong it and hit those new heights.”

When Oldham first announced the signing of Turner, the club revealed it was a two-year playing/coaching role.

However, the 35-year-old remains confident he can still offer far more to the team as a player.

He said: “I see myself as a player first at the minute. The coaching role is something that… I’m learning little bits. Picking bits up. I’m more of a player/captain than a coach, but I do small amounts with the coaching. 

“It’s a different role but I’m enjoying it. I really want to help the coaches out in any way I can, and also learn about the role on the way. 

“You never know what will happen at the end of it. I’m not too fussed about going into coaching, but the opportunity came up to coach Oldham and that’s something that I want to do. At this minute, I don’t aspire to coach anyone other than Oldham.”

Throughout his playing career, Turner has worked with top rugby league brains including Karl Harrison, Nathan Brown and Daryl Powell. 

When asked about their influences, Turner added: “You pick things up along the way from the coaches that I’ve been under for the last few years. 

“I’ve tried to help the younger generation out, that’s something that I’m looking to do with my own ideas as well. 

“I’ve played at the top for a long time and got a hell of a lot of experience. I’ve had the highs of winning Grand Finals and the lows of getting relegated. There’s a lot of experience that I can pass on.”

Turner, who was an Oldham season ticket holder as a youngster, remembers the club’s glory days.

The Roughyeds last competed at the top level back in 1997. Their last Super League campaign saw them finish 12th – a campaign which instigated two and a half decades away from rugby league’s elite.

Nevertheless, Turner is optimistic about the club’s fresh ambition since its acquisition by a group led by former player and coach Mike Ford.

“Just before I started playing professionally, Oldham were a Super League club and one of the best about. Over the last 20 years, the club have been through a demise,” he said.

“It’s really refreshing that the club is reinvigorated, it’s something that I didn’t think I’d see. 

“I always had an ambition to play for Oldham. Since Mike Ford has come on board, everything’s changed. They made it an attractive club to be at. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be at this stage of my career.”

While a return to the top-flight remains a long way away, Turner is positive about the current direction of the near 148-year-old sleeping giant.

“We’re a work in progress at the minute. There’s been a lot of changes at the club and there are a lot of things we have to improve on.

“I understand the process, we’re not going to be the best all of a sudden. But overall, we have to be happy with where we are, compared to where we were for the last 20 years.”

With Turner well into his mid-thirties, it’s no secret that his playing career is coming towards a conclusion.

Nevertheless, the player is focused on the upcoming campaign as he looks to aid Sean Long’s side ahead of the League One season.

“I’m definitely in the last few years of my career,” he said. “I’ve never had any major muscular or cartilage or ligament damage. My body is in good shape. But obviously playing 400 games over a span of 18/19 years takes its toll. 

“At the moment, I’m not thinking of retirement or anything like that. I’m concentrating on this season and obviously next season. Then I’ll make a decision on whether we go ahead in 2026. 

“We’ve got the World Cup in 2026 and in the back of my mind, I’d like to be about for that. But obviously I know I’ll be 37. It’s quite a big ask. At the minute, I’m still capable of playing at a standard I’m happy with.”

Speaking of the World Cup, Turner’s national side Jamaica will be determined to make the 10-team event in two years time.

The Reggae Warriors competed at the 2021 World Cup but finished bottom of their group following defeats to Ireland, Lebanon and New Zealand.

With Turner focused on playing for Jamaica at the next tournament, he hasn’t yet contemplated contributing to the national side through a coaching role.

“That will depend on whether I plan to be involved in the game once I finish playing,” he said. 

“It’s a tough question to answer because a lot of things have to fall into place. I have to be at a certain point to carry on and continue in the game. I’m not sure whether coaching any other side than Oldham is for me. 

“For me there has to be a sentimental attachment to coach, I don’t think I could do it just as a job. That’s something that will fall into place in the next couple of years. 

“I’m very passionate about Jamaican rugby league. Whilst I’m still around at the minute, I’ll help in whatever way I can.”

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 494 (March 2024)

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