Tony: Joe’s a big talent

Rugby League - Fax v Hull KR
Rugby League - Fax v Hull KR

OLDHAM coach Tony Benson has tipped Halifax’s young pack talent Joe Chandler for a breakthrough year in the Co-operative Championship.

Benson, who will bring his Roughyeds team to the Shay for Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup encounter between the sides, signed Chandler as an unknown from Leeds’ Academy set up at the end of 2009.

A year on, the 22 year old, who made one Super League start for the Rhinos, was snapped up by Fax boss Matt Calland after a rampaging season in Championship One and made his competitive debut for Fax in Friday’s 28-22 victory at Swinton.

And now Benson believes he can make a similar impact in the game’s second tier.

“Joe’s a fantastic young player and a fantastic young man and I don’t see any question mark about him making the grade at that level,” said Benson, who watched his side stun Championship new boys Hunslet - also by 28-22 - in last weekend’s season-opener.

“He was pretty much unknown when he came to us but the way we played really suited him.

“He scored a lot of tries for us, running out wide in a good team.

“He’s one of the first to turn up and the last to leave, every training session, and keeps himself in great shape.

“Sometimes he needs to relax and just play the game, but when he does that he’s a really good young player.

“He was ready to move on and I was pleased that he got a deal somewhere where he can continue to develop.”

But Benson sounded a note of caution over Fax’s ambitions to eventually move Chandler into the front row of the pack.

“I’m not trying to cause controversy, but I don’t think he’s a prop at Championship level,” said the Kiwi.

“Size wise, his frame cannot handle much more and I just don’t think he’s heavy enough.

“I think he’s a wide-running back rower who could play centre for you, that’s his spot.”