BATLEY BULLDOGS head coach Matt Diskin says that his side are looking fitter than ever as they continue their pre-season preparations.
The club made it seven wins on the bounce in the Boxing Day derby with a 16-10 victory over Dewsbury Rams last week.
And they now turn their focus to the resurrected Yorkshire Cup, in which they will face Hunslet in the first part of a double header at the Provident Stadium in Bradford on Sunday (January 6).
Reflecting on the latest festive triumph, in which the Bulldogs claimed a 10-0 lead in the first half before having to hang on in the final minutes at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, Diskin said he “learned a lot” from the encounter.
“I thought we did enough without really getting out of second gear,” he said. “We were just cruising along through it.
“In the first half we were looking to promote the ball and we had that great start. After that we conceded a couple of soft tries with a couple of dummy half runners sneaking over the line.”
“I thought there were some positives from everybody who was on the field, and there’s plenty more to come, which you’d expect in the first game of
The squad have had the week off over New Year following that victory, returning to training on Wednesday to prepare for this weekend’s clash.
Diskin says that the performance against the Rams proved what he had suspected – that the squad is looking fitter than at this stage in previous years.
“They trained exceptionally hard up to Boxing Day, and at this time of year the encouraging thing was that we looked very fit on Boxing Day,” the coach said.
“We looked a lot leaner than we have been previously, and we are in good shape.”
There were debuts for a number of the Bulldogs’ new signings, with Sam Wood, Toby Everett, Jack Downs, Tyler Dickinson and Joe Taira all making their bow for the club after joining over the autumn.
The three trialists currently training with the club, Paul Brearley, Archie Bruce and Callum Ogden, all made an appearance off the bench as well, as they look to earn a deal.
“I think they’ve been training exceptionally well,” Diskin said. “They gave a good representation of themselves on Boxing Day, like everybody else. They’ve got a few games now to try and earn a contract.”
The coach says that the players who didn’t feature last week will get game time in the Yorkshire Cup, including new signings Danny Yates and Niall Walker.
“Over the next few weeks we’ll have everybody fit so before the start of the year they’ll all get a run out, ” he said.
“Danny Yates, (Lewis) Galbraith and players like that will be there over the next couple of weeks, so they’ll get their chance to put their own stake in the ground for a start regularly.”
This Sunday sees the Bulldogs take on League One side Hunslet in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup, with a 1pm kick-off at Odsal.
Diskin is impressed by the squad that their opponents have put together, but says that the focus will be on his own side’s development, four weeks before the Championship season gets underway.
“I know they’ve made a couple of signings, players like Richard Moore who have got plenty of Championship experience and had some great careers themselves, so they’ve got a lot more depth and a lot more quality than they had,” he said.
“Our focus is on our own structures and that’s how we’ve trained, and that’s what we’ll look to do in this Yorkshire Cup.”