Joyous skipper Hirst hails Bulldog spirit

Batley captain Keegan Hirst leads the squad in their victory song in front of the large travelling Bulldogs support.

Batley captain Keegan Hirst leads the squad in their victory song in front of the large travelling Bulldogs support.

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Bulldogs captain Keegan Hirst has praised the team spirit and desire to succeed after Batley secured their place in the middle eights.

Batley have overcome huge odds to clinch third place ahead of big spending Bradford Bulls, Halifax and Sheffield Eagles and they can now look forward to glamous games against Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield and Hull KR.

Speaking after last Sunday’s 62-24 thrashing of Swinton, Hirst said: “We have got one of the lowest budgets in the competition but the lads have come together and worked hard for each other.

“We have come up against full-time teams and turned them over and then gone to places like Whitehaven and Swinton and to put in a performance like we have says a lot about the desire.

“As the season went on we started looking at the table and how it was shaping up and when we knew we were in with a shout, you start looking ahead but we kept our feet on the ground and took it one game at a time and we pulled together and got through in the end. London last week was a real pressure game and we knew if we lost that we were virtually out of contention but we came good and did again (at Swinton). Batley is not a cash rich club but what it is rich for is the personalities and even through adversity, when we’ve flirted with relegation, we’ve always had a good team spirit and that is what the club prides itself on.

“It was a really good turnout from our fans. They were loud and made it really hard for Swinton on their own ground, which says a lot.

“It was good to see all the Batley fans and that is why we did our winning song with them at the end. They are part of the club as much as we are.”

He added: “We didn’t set ourselves any targets for the regular season and we don’t want to start looking too far ahead otherwise we could come unstuck.”