BATLEY BULLDOGS have signed St Helens hooker Matty Fozard on a one-month loan deal.
Fozard, 20, will link up with the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium club with immediate effect and there is no recall option on his loan.
The young pivot, who played three times for Wales under John Kear at the 2014 European Championships, has made just one appearance for the Super League champions, deputising in his side’s Easter Monday clash with Widnes in 2014.
He is expected to boost a Bulldogs squad hit by a number of injuries – with half-back Scott Leatherbarrow, centre Ayden Faal and full-back James Craven all ruled out with long-term problems.
Kear said: “Alistair Leak had to play 80 minutes against Bradford and I thought he was outstanding, but you can’t expect a player to do that every week.
“He made 55 tackles in the game and was fantastic for us, but we need to lighten that burden.”
The Bulldogs travel to Wakefield’s Bell Vue Stadium on Sunday (2pm) to take on amateur side Normanton Knights in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.
It is a ground very familiar to Batley coach John Kear, who was in charge of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats for six years. However, the former Super League coach admits the opposition are somewhat of an unknown quantity.
He said: “It isn’t the first time we have played an amateur club in this competition, we played Kells last year.
“They were a division below Normanton and they gave us a real run for our money. In fact I think they were the better team for the first half.
“We need to go into the game with the right mentality and give them the respect we would give any other team. We will prepare as if we were playing anyone else.
“It is a bit like the Bradford game in reverse. That was a full-time team in the Bulls against our part-time squad, whereas we are the semi-professionals this time facing the amateurs.
“There is an element of pressure and expectation on us and we want to progress, because this is a competition I love and it offers great financial returns.”
Kear says he is likely to rotate his squad for the Challenge Cup tie, with the remainder of his 25-man squad likely to feature against the Knights.
“At the moment I know very little about them, I watch a lot of amateur rugby and know the stand-out players they have from that,” he continued.
“We will look at their recent games, including their loss against Myton and win over Oulton in the last round, and try to familiarise myself with them and their strengths and weaknesses and what to exploit.
“Bell Vue is a great stadium and it is great for the players to get a chance to play at such a venue.
“I have some great memories there because I spent six years of my life at Wakefield, I just hope I turn into the right changing rooms.”
The coaching staff were due to assess a couple of players at training through the week – with prop forward Alex Rowe expected to be rested for the cup tie.
“I have rotated the squad so far this season because I know we have 25 quality players,” Kear added.
“It is a long season and when you include the Challenge Cup and hopefully the play-offs you are looking at 30 to 35 games in a year.
“By the end of the weekend all players will have featured in a competitive game.
“For Tom Thackray and Brad Day, who have both been in our 18-man squads, it is a chance to get a good run out and hopefully give me a selection headache for the next Championship game.”