BATLEY BULLDOGS have continued to strengthen their squad for 2019 with the arrival of two Super League players.
Second-rower Jack Downs will join the club from Hull FC, while Dewsbury-born centre Sam Wood will spend the season on loan at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium from Huddersfield Giants.
Coach Matt Diskin described Downs, who has made 20 appearances in the top flight for the Black and Whites, as a “fantastic coup”.
“We fought off a lot of stiff competition and he’s a fantastic player with some real pedigree, and he’s an 80-minute back-rower,” he said.
“He’ll make a hell of a lot of carries and a hell of a lot of tackles for you, and he’ll complement the flair of the squad very well.”
Meanwhile, the versatile Wood has also appeared 20 times in Super League, and will join following his current loan spell at Halifax.
“Sam Wood has some real class about him,” said Diskin.
“We’ve signed him as a centre but he’s got the ability to play other positions as well, and he’s got some real class and footballing ability.
“When you’ve got that on the edges you’re going to score points, and we’re looking for Sam to contribute to that.”
There appears to be some promise for next year in the halves as well, where Louis Jouffret and Dom Brambani excelled in the impressive win at Leigh Centurions last weekend.
The coach says that the two complement each other well, and he is excited ahead of next season with Rochdale’s Danny Yates also coming into the mix.
“Louis is looking very quick and sharp, and is thriving off the leadership that Dom is giving,” he said.
“That pace is allowing Dom to drive and dominate as well and they’re really complementing each other now.
“Looking at that for next year is really exciting, and you’ve the quality of Yates coming in to complement the two of them as well.
“We’ve got some genuine pace and threat in the three-quarters going into 2019, which is what we’ve been aiming for in our recruitment.
“Some of the genuine pace that we’re bringing into the backline is going to suit the style of play that we’ve been trying to achieve over the past couple of years.”
The win at Leigh was a fifth in a row for the Bulldogs, and Diskin says that his side are “showing glimpses of what they can deliver.”
He said: “I thought it was a dominant performance right from the word go.
“We came in trailing at half-time and we were unfortunate to do so because we were in control of the game, and not just the field position but we played some fantastic rugby as well, some free-flowing, attractive rugby which is what we’ve been aiming to do since I’ve been in my tenure.”
With a number of players set to move elsewhere at the end of the season, Diskin says that has been a motivation for their great run of form.
“Those people that are moving on have been a big part of the club for the last few years and deserve to be sent off on a high, and we’re certainly trying to achieve that at the moment.”
They can make it six wins in a row with victory over Swinton on Sunday in the final game of the season.
The Lions travel to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium level on points with Rochdale and fighting for safety, and Diskin is keen to make sure his players are fully focused.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “We’ve got to try and control our boys and make sure they’re still focused and not in a party atmosphere after the win at Leigh, because Swinton are very dangerous opposition.
“They play some fantastic rugby and they’re not afraid of doing it at our end or at their own end so they’re going to be a genuine threat if we’re not on the money.
“We’ve got to make sure our preparation is good and we’re not in holiday mode too early.”