BATLEY BULLDOGS revealed their squad numbers for the 2015 season at last Friday’s kit launch in the Ron Earnshaw Lounge.
The new home jersey was on display, with new signing Shaun Ainscough modelling it for the attending supporters.
Although Bulldogs head coach John Kear said that fans should not read too much into the squad numbers, a number of new players were handed shirts in the starting line-up.
New full-back James Craven will take over Miles Greenwood’s number one jersey from last season after signing from Keighley.
Former Whitehaven duo Ainscough and Cain Southernwood have been assigned the number three and six shirts respectively, whilst the returning Keegan Hirst picked up the vacated number eight shirt.
Former Super League star Ainscough has been eyed up for a spot in the centres, despite playing much of his rugby on the wing, and he will link up with speedster Wayne Reittie in what looks like an exciting wing-centre partnership.
For Southernwood a half-back link-up with scrum-half Scott Leatherbarrow is on the cards.
Leatherbarrow, who is returning from a knee clean-out operation, is expected to be fit for the traditional Heavy Woollen Boxing Day derby.
Fellow new signings Brad Day and Brad Hey (both from Castleford) have been given the numbers 23 and 24 respectively.
Head coach John Kear said: “The kit launch was really well attended and the players certainly enjoyed mixing with the fans and the supporters enjoyed meeting the players, especially the new signings.
“We have learnt from our mistakes in terms of the squad.
“We went down the wrong route with recruitment last season, but this year we have more quantity but also we have more quality too.
“It bodes well for the challenge that lies ahead. I think it is the biggest challenge that Batley have ever faced so we need a strong healthy squad.
“I have taken a punt by putting Shaun Ainscough at centre, but he could end up on the wing or full-back.
“But I have no doubt he can play in any of those positions at this level.
“It is vital that we have depth in the squad, we need to be able to rest and rotate players and pick on form.”
A number of trial players are still training with the club, but have not been issued with squad numbers.
However, Kear admits he has been impressed and says fans can expect to see the amateur stars in pre-season action.
Meanwhile, former Batley favourite Danny Maun is set to coach the Heavy Woollen Select side who will face the Bulldogs in a pre-season friendly on Sunday January 25, 2015.
The team will be formed from the best amateur players in the district and will come together for the first time tomorrow (Sat) under the guidance of Maun, Dudley Hill coach Danny Thomas and Birstall Victoria’s Richard Hunter.
An initial squad of 25 will be narrowed down to 20, before taking on Kear’s side as part of their pre-season build-up.
Maun – who made over 250 appearances at Mount Pleasant – has opted for a number of young local players including Thornhill duo Joel Gibson and Mindaugas Bendikas, alongside George Croisdale and James Delaney of Dewsbury Moor.
The former Batley stalwart has also selected a quartet of experienced players in Aidie Moore and Andy Robinson (Dewsbury Moor), Brendan Sheridan (Birstall Victoria) and Andy Burland (Shaw Cross).