BATLEY BULLDOGS’ new head coach Matt Diskin admits the club will have realistic aims in 2017 despite their success in reaching the Super 8s Qualifiers last term under the guidance of John Kear.
The former Super League ace oversaw the first training session with his new squad as Batley’s pre-season officially got underway on Wednesday night.
“It’s great to finally get started,” said Diskin, who gained coaching experience with the Bradford Bulls before joining the Mount Pleasant club.
“It’s seems ages ago since I was announced as John’s (Kear) replacement, so I’m excited to start working with the guys and getting to know everyone better.
“The pressure is on me a little bit to prepare the side for another push at a top four place in the Championship next season.
“The club has had a great year and it’s an honour that the board have put their trust in me to take the club forward.
“Our aim next year isn’t necessarily to finish in the top four but to compete for the top four and challenge the best teams in the division.
“It’s a really competitive league and what the club achieved this year was brilliant, but at the same time it won’t be easily sustainable.
“Nevertheless I have a brilliant squad with bags of potential at my disposal so we’ll all be doing our best to emulate the achievements that this year brought.”
Batley’s recruitment aim during the off-season has been to retain the squad that made the Qualifiers, and despite the exit of captain Keegan Hirst and New Zealander Chris Ulugia, who joined Wakefield and Featherstone respectively, they have been successful.
Diskin, who will attend a Q&A with fans in the Ron Earnshaw Lounge on Nov 10 (7.30pm), added: “We have splashed the cash massively but the players we have brought in such as Joel (Farrell) and Macauley (Hallett) have a lot of potential and huge ambition.
“It’s also encouraging for me that the majority of last season’s squad wanted to stay at the club.
“They would have been forgiven for chasing more money elsewhere, but they have been rewarded for their efforts last season with better contracts and are eager to repeat their achievements next year.
“I know I’m taking over a team with a lot of potential, there are a lot of leaders in this squad, so it’s exciting times for the club at the moment.
“There is the potential for one or two more additions, but that’s only if they’re the right fit for this club.
“We certainly won’t be making any rash decisions on players because we’re in a strong position as it stands.”
One Bulldog who wasn’t at Diskin’s first training session was Scottish international Dave Scott.
The full-back is hoping for a call-up to Scotland’s 19-man squad that takes on England in tomorrow’s (Sat Nov 5, 5.30pm) Four Nations clash at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Scott has had a strong year with Batley and featured all of their 33 league and cup games.
• The Batley Independent Supporters’ Squadbuilder Association (BISSA) annual meeting will be held in the Ron Earnshaw Lounge at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium on Monday, November 14 (7.30pm).
Any BISSA member who wishes an item to be put on the agenda has until 12noon on November 7 to notify the club secretary in writing.