Bulldogs playing the waiting game over duo
BATLEY coach John Kear is hoping to conclude two signings as he prepares for the Bulldogs’ opening Northern Rail Cup group game at Keighley Cougars on February 12.
Batley have been chasing winger Alex Brown, who memorably scored two tries in the 2010 Northern Rail final victory over Widnes, and he is due to give a decision whether to re-join the club later this week.
They have also agreed terms to sign highly rated young prop Alex Walmsley, although there is a stumbling block as to whether he can still play with Dewsbury Celtic when he is not picked for the Bulldogs.
Batley have been in touch with the Rugby Football League but there is some uncertainty about the rules, so Bulldogs are waiting for the issues to be resolved before the signing can be completed.
Kear said: “I don’t see Alex as a first choice starting prop this season. It will be a development year for him but he is certainly one for the future.”
The Bulldogs have agreed for hooker Ben Fisher to be loaned to Super League outfit Catalans Dragons for two months.
Fisher made his Batley debut in the defeat at Dewsbury on Boxing Day and also figured in the friendly against Keighley Cougars. He did not play against Huddersfield Giants or Wakefield Wildcats and he has been allowed to join Catalans to ease their injury crisis.
Fisher turns 31 on Saturday and could make his Dragons debut at Bradford Bulls 24 hours later.
Batley are also monitoring the progress of full-back Ian Preece and centre Chris Buttery.
Preece was due to resume light training on Tuesday after pulling a hamstring in the victory over Huddersfield but he is doubtful for the opening clash at Keighley.
Buttery was withdrawn from the squad to face Wakefield last Sunday after feeling dizzy in training and further checks will be carried out.
Gareth Frodsham picked up a rib injury during Sunday’s 18-14 win over the Wildcats but Batley were hoping it would settle down in the coming days.
Kear said: “We have a big squad and have four outstanding centres in Daley Williams, Danny Maun, Jason Walton and Chris Buttery, so we have plenty of cover.
“Danny Maun captained the side against Wakefield and I was really pleased with how he did. He did well in the lead up and on game day and played like a captain, leading the defensive effort.”
Kear added: “It was a real tough, good standard game. It wasn’t flowing attacking wise but that was in part due to a lot of good defensive work both teams put in.
“When you are eight points down with 20-odd minutes left and going uphill it can be tough but you’ve got to admire the players because they just kept working.”
Kear added: “I’ve got a real clear indication of what I’m going to go with against Keighley so the game certainly served its purpose.”
Several players are in line for the captaincy but Kear will not make his final decision until next week.
Kear added: “I always said that it didn’t matter whether we won one of the pre-season games or all four, what matters in when the competitive rugby starts on February 12.
“It will be a big game for us but it’s also a big game for Keighley. I’ve looked at the previous year’s competitions and you need to win three of the four games to go through. Some sides have managed to scrape through with two wins and a bonus point but we will need to roll our sleeves up and get the three wins.”
Batley have altered the kick-off times of both their home Northern Rail Cup group games. They will now meet Toulouse Olympique on Saturday February 25 at 2pm and London Skolars on Sunday February 19 at 2.30pm.