Kear backs Bulldogs to challenge top six

New signing Pat Walker could be in line to make his first Batley appearance against Dewsbury on Boxing Day.
New signing Pat Walker could be in line to make his first Batley appearance against Dewsbury on Boxing Day.

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear believes his squad are capable of challenging for a top-six finish next season if they remain injury free.

Batley suffered horrendous injury problems last term, which resulted in them becoming embroiled in a relegation scrap before a late rally preserved their Championship status.

Batley have strengthened during the close season, bringing in eight new players, including Dominic Brambani, Pat Walker and James Davey from Sheffield Eagles.

Kear said: “This is certainly the strongest squad we have had since I have been here and if we remain relatively injury free, we can challenge for the top six.

“Batley have spent a decade in the second tier of rugby league and for a club with our resources that is one hell of an achievement and a credit to the way the club is run.

“The club have been very good to us with the funding but if you have got the best squad then you need the best performances.

“If you stand still, other clubs overtake you and all the sides in the Championship are improving.”

Kear is excited about working with Davey, a player he has already coached.

He added: “James Davey was with me at Wakefield, in what were very difficult circumstances.

“We threw him in at the deep end but he swam and you now have a player with five or six years experience at a high level and who is a seasoned pro.”

Batley supporters will get a first glimpse of the club’s new signings in two weeks’ time when they face Dewsbury Rams on Boxing Day.

Chris Ulugia will not feature in the Boxing Day derby, while Sean Hesketh’s injury has ruled him out but everybody else in the squad is up for selection.