Kevin Whately explains why Oxford Rugby League can be successful
Last Updated: 28/03/13 10:35am
Actor Kevin Whately is backing the newly-formed Oxford Rugby League side to make a splash in Championship 1.
The team are about to join the third-tier of the English rugby league pyramid and will play their home matches at the iconic Iffley Road, where Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954.
And Whately, who has roamed the streets of Oxford for many years as detective Robbie Lewis in ITV dramas Inspector Morse and Lewis, told Boots 'n' All that the area's side should be able to assemble a talented squad.
"I loved Martin Offiah, Andy Farrell and Shaun Edwards in the Wigan team and they are still heroes today."
"Oxford is a funny place as it is a mixture of town and gown," he said. "You have the students at the main university and at Oxford Brookes, but there is also a big working-class community.
"There are some very good rugby players and some good union players, too, with Gloucester nearby, so I am hoping they can find some good players and I think they have a very good chance of being successful."
Whately, who is also known for starring in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet as Neville Hope, says he fell in love with rugby league after watching Wigan's all-conquering side during the 1990s - and he admits he was taken aback by the quality of the game.
"When I came down south I went to one of the early Wigan Challenge Cup victories at Wembley and I was totally hooked from then," added the 62-year-old, who was born in Northumberland.
"I loved the speed and skill level of it and when I saw Lawrence Dallaglio he was totally flabbergasted at the fitness of the league boys, too, at a time when the union lads were turning pro.
"I loved Martin Offiah, Andy Farrell and Shaun Edwards in that Wigan team and they are still heroes today. They were outstanding players and great to watch."
Play the video above to hear more of Whately's thoughts on rugby league.