BATLEY BULLDOGS have handed contracts to Dewsbury Moor pair Aiden Ineson and Tom Harrington ahead of this weekend’s trip to Toulouse.
Harrington, who lines up predominantly at centre, trained with the club over pre-season but was unable to play in their friendlies due to a suspension.
Half-back Ineson (pictured above) has been on trial with the Bulldogs over the past month, and both players have impressed enough to earn professional deals.
Both have been involved in set-ups at Super League clubs in the past with Harrington previously in the Wakefield academy alongside new teammates Lucas Walshaw and Dale Morton, while Ineson is a former Castleford academy player.
Ineson in particular is in contention for his debut at Toulouse tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 5pm UK time), but both will get game time somewhere with Leeds’ reserves, with whom Batley are dual-registered, also an option.
Tom Lillycrop is set to make a league return for the Bulldogs and reach the landmark of 100 club appearances in France while front-row partner Tyler Dickinson is also expected to play for the first time since pre-season. Winger Johnny Campbell will also be back in contention after missing last week’s extra-time defeat to Sheffield with a knock.
There will be fresh absences for Batley too though, including Walshaw and Joe Taira who are unable to make the trip due to passport and visa issues. Forward James Brown played on with a rib injury suffered in the first tackle of the game last weekend and will miss out, as will full-back Luke Hooley with a minor shoulder injury.
This weekend’s match will mark the first time the club have returned to Toulouse since the death of young player Archie Bruce, hours after his debut there last August.
Batley requested a change of hotel for this trip and the sport’s governing body, the RFL, have agreed to pay the cost of alternative accommodation in the French city.
Nevertheless, head coach Craig Lingard acknowledges it is certain to be a difficult return for everybody associated with the club.
“It’s something that we need to speak to the players about,” he said. “There’s been a large turnover in players but there’s still a lot of the squad from last year who experienced that.
“There is certainly a player welfare issue this week and that’s something we’ll have to take into consideration. It will bring up some bad memories for people.
“The RFL have sorted a different hotel from the one they had last year which I think was important. It’s a place for people that going back to could be quite traumatic. We’re in a different environment which will
Tomorrow evening’s game will see the Bulldogs face a Toulouse side who are top of the table with four wins from four, and Lingard is aware of the size of the challenge awaiting his team.
“They’re a full-time team, they’ve got some great players,” he said.
“They’ve been at the top end of the division for the last few seasons now so it’s not going to be an easy game going there.
“There aren’t many teams who do go over there and get a win. We’re under no illusions how difficult that’s going to be.”