BATLEY BULLDOGS have extended the contracts of two fan favourites, with Dane Manning and James Brown committing for 2020.
Thirty-year-old Manning is in his second spell at the club, with the second-rower in his third season since rejoining from Halifax.
Loose forward Brown, also 30, signed for the Bulldogs from Swinton in 2015.
Both have been heavily involved this season, with Manning making 14 appearances and Brown playing 13 times in all competitions so far.
Meanwhile, coach Matt Diskin says that Batley are aiming for a strong second half of the season.
With 14 matches ticked off and 13 left to play in the Championship, they are seven points above the relegation zone but eight points off the play-offs. However, Diskin insists his team will still be motivated to achieve in the second half of the campaign, even if there is little to play for.
“If you had a league table for the second half of the season, we’re aiming to be in the top five of that,” he said.
“We had a bad start to the year and probably ruined any outside chance we had of anything above that, but what we can do is concentrate on this second half of the year.
“We got off to a win (over Dewsbury last weekend) and we’ve got another 13 to go, and we’ll keep knocking them off one by one. At the end of that, if we’re in a good position then we’ll be happy.
“Those teams above us have had some really good runs of form, but they’re all going to pick up losses. We’re just hoping that the majority of ours have been picked up in the first half of the year and we go on a bit of a run now.
“We’re never looking back at who is (below us), we’re always looking up. We’re not a team with that negative mindset, we’re looking above and seeing who we can chase down and what we can do.”
The side directly above them in the table are Halifax, who they face at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).
Batley lost by just two points when they went to the Shay earlier in the year, and Diskin says they can aim for the win despite Halifax coming out on top in their last four matches under new head coach Simon Grix.
“We were very unfortunate not to get a win earlier in the season against them, so we’ll go into the game with confidence,” said the Bulldogs boss.
“I thought they were fantastic against Bradford (last weekend) but there’s nothing we’ve seen there that we fear. I know that if we can deliver on what we practice, we’ll be more than confident.”
Halifax have a Challenge Cup quarter-final clash the following weekend, but Diskin doesn’t believe the opposition will be any less focused.
“I wouldn’t say it’s any easier this week than at any other time. They could be more dangerous because they’ve got players putting their hands up for positions, saying ‘I want to play in that quarter-final’ because it’s a massive game for them.”