Bulldogs will face major Super League challenge

Bulldogs will face major Super League challenge

BATLEY BULLDOGS face a full-strength St Helens side tonight (Fri) as they travel to Langtree Park to play the Super League giants.

The Saints have named their match day line-up and it includes a starting 13 worthy of top division fixtures.

Luke Walsh, Kyle Amor and Matty Dawson will be on debut for the home side, with first team starters Jonny Lomax and James Roby just some of the big names on show.

The tie also has added spice with former Batley forward Alex Walmsley lining up against his former club.

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear is staying positive ahead of the clash and says a strong Saints side will make for a better spectacle.

He said: “Saints naming such a strong squad adds more things to the picture and it will certainly provide a heck of a challenge.

“We are all looking forward to the game and the home side naming such a strong side gives the game that added spice.

“Since I have been coach at the Bulldogs we have played two Super League sides and we have had close games.

“We played London and lost 22-16 and played the champions Huddersfield and narrowly lost 13-4.

“It is better for us to face a full-strength Saints, it will give the players an indication of the level of play required to play in the elite division.”

However, the former Super League coach says that he expected the Langtree Park outfit to name a star-studded squad.

He added: “I expected Nathan Brown to name this line up because it is their first trial game, and, like us, they are building for round one.

“They have a new half-back partnership to bed in and they are treating this game as meaningful.

“We know their players well so I haven’t focused on the opposition, they have a strong spine of their squad in Walsh, Hohaia, Roby and Lomax and some big boys up front too.”

The Super League sides pack also includes Walmsley, a player Kear says he has the utmost respect for.

“I like Alex because he is very humble and a great lad, I think we will see a lot of improvement from him,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Batley chief also praised the new idea for the future structure of professional rugby league in the UK.

Super League clubs voted in favour of a new structure which will see the return of promotion and relegation as well as a new-play-off system.

After 23 rounds the leagues will be split into three divisions of eight teams to produce a crucial play-off series which will determine both the title and the make-up of Super League for 2016.

Kear said: “The new structure looks very good, it gives Championship clubs more to play for and should also boost crowds.

“I believe the league lost something when it went to the licensing system, with some games becoming meaningless, you want games that have consequences.

“Any player or coach worth their salt wants to play at the highest level and test themselves against the best and this structure gives them that chance.”

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