MATT DISKIN has admitted that Batley Bulldogs have struggled to cope with the recent passing of young player Archie Bruce.
Their first match since Bruce’s death, hours after making his debut for the club in Toulouse, saw them defeated 64-0 by Featherstone Rovers, and Diskin opened up afterwards on how difficult the past few weeks have been.
“We’ve tried to put things in place for the players to speak about the situation, but you can see from the scoreline there that we’re not coping too well at the moment,” he said.
“As a group, we need to start making steps to recover from what we’ve been through, and what we’re going through is trivial compared to what the family of Archie have had to go through. It’s left a scar and it’s going to take a while for that to heal.
“I know his family were here today and they will have been very proud to see (the tributes).
“He was a fantastic kid, a local boy and somebody I’d known for a few years now,” he said of Archie who, like Diskin himself was a hooker who came through at Dewsbury Moor.
“The development that he made in the last 10 months with us was exponential. You could see the quality of his performances improve last year for Dewsbury Moor and he moved to a level where he got his debut with us.
“It’s a real tragedy. But the one positive from it is that when that boy went to sleep that night he was on top of the world. He was in a happy place.”
Batley finish their Championship campaign on Sunday away at Barrow Raiders (kick-off 3pm), but Diskin admits that there is a feeling of wanting the season to be over.
“There’s a feel of that. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t that,” he said. “But we’ve got a job to do and the players have got a job to do.
“It (the Featherstone loss) is not a reflection of the quality that we’ve got, it’s a reflection of a group that’s mentally and emotionally in a tough place at the moment.
“It’s not much of a high but we’ve got a job to do,” he said of aiming to finish with a win in Cumbria. “Barrow are a tough team to play at home and we’ll do our best to prepare as well as we can.”
Barrow have already been consigned to relegation to League One, while the Bulldogs are in 10th spot in the table and would need a win and a big swing in points difference to overtake ninth-placed Swinton.
Alex Bretherton has been ruled out for the final match of the season after picking up a knock in the Featherstone game, which could prove to be his last for the club as the former Dewsbury forward ponders retirement.
Another former Ram, prop Tom Lillycrop, has already retired to focus on work commitments after a couple of injury-hit seasons.
Front-rower Adam Gledhill is set to make his 150th appearance for the club this weekend if he features.