BATLEY BULLDOGS have strengthened their forward pack for next season with the signing of powerful prop Joe Taira from Rochdale Hornets.
The Fijian became a favourite in three years at the Hornets and was one of their most impressive players as they avoided relegation last season, making 26 appearances and scoring four tries.
The hard-hitting 29-year-old can play in either the front or back row, having started his career as a centre.
He becomes the third new addition to the Bulldogs’ pack for 2019, after scooping Toby Everett from rivals Dewsbury Rams and signing Jack Downs from Hull FC.
With early recruitment focusing on the forwards, Matt Diskin is looking to add to his middle options ahead of the start of pre-season.
After finishing the 2018 campaign with a sixth straight win, Diskin revealed that the players have the full month off before beginning pre-season at the start of November.
“We’ll come back on the fifth of November, work hard up until the Boxing Day game, then give ourselves another week off,” he said.
“We’ve reviewed and assessed and we know the areas that we need to improve on and we’ll be working hard on those during pre-season, and look to build on some of the quality rugby that we played towards the end (of 2018).”
However, Diskin will extend the off-season for the five Bulldogs players who will be in international action in the coming weeks.
That includes three players that have been named in different squads for the European Championship, which begins tomorrow (Saturday).
Dave Scott has been named in the Scotland squad, and could come up against teammate Michael Ward in the opening game against Ireland, while Louis Jouffret has been included for France.
Batley are also well represented in the Jamaica side for the Americas Championship, with wingers Wayne Reittie and Keenen Tomlinson picked in their squad.
They are joined by Joel Farrell, but the second rower’s departure from the club was confirmed this week.
Sheffield Eagles have announced his signature, joining James Davey and Jason Crookes in making the move to South Yorkshire.