By Stephen Ibbetson
BATLEY Assistant coach Danny Maun has laid down a challenge to the Bulldogs players to fight for their place in the team for the rest of the season.
Last Sunday’s 40-18 home win over Swinton took them eight points clear of the relegation places, but they cannot finish any higher in the table than they currently stand.
Maun believes that the Bulldogs players now need to challenge themselves to perform for the rest of the year, as well as keep form and spirits high ahead of the following season.
“I think individually they’ve got to challenge themselves now. They’ve got to get out of this season what they want to get out of it,” he said.
“We can just stay up or we can get a bit self-pride and build for next season. I think it’s important that we continue the winning mentality, then that bodes well for next year.
“I think the players will be up for it, we’ve got a week off this week which we needed as I think a lot of them have been physically tired over the last few weeks, so I think they’ll come back in good spirits and hopefully finish off the season well.”
Injuries have badly hit Batley’s squad in the course of the campaign, but Maun says that there will be strong competition for places when the team return to action in the Championship Shield.
“Everyone will be fresh after this weekend and we’ll have a big pool to choose from.
“Pat Walker didn’t play at the weekend and he’s got some competition now with Louis Jouffret playing in the halves, and (Lewis) Galbraith missed out so we’ve got some good competition and it’s up to the lads to get in that 17 now.
If they’re not motivated to get in the team then they shouldn’t be playing, but I know they’ll all come back in good spirits and I think this week’s rest will be a blessing in disguise.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 40-18 win over Swinton at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, and Maun says it was crucial to end a run of nine consecutive defeats.
“We needed it didn’t we? It’s important going into the 8s as the lads need a bit of confidence, so everyone’s happy with that.
“I thought Jouffret was brilliant in the halves, he added a different dimension to us with his speed, his game awareness was very good, and it allowed (half-back partner) Dom Brambani to relax a bit.
“I thought we scored some very good tries so that was pleasing. We’d had a hard week’s training as well after the Rams game so we could see they would perform that well.”
“It’s not nice when you’re trying to give some feedback during the week and we can see they’re trying. I think the effort has been there but we’ve played some very good sides, and Toronto (the week before the derby) was very tough.
“I think once you’re in that rut it’s hard to get out of that losing streak, so credit to the lads. I thought they did well to get out of that, and we can go into the 8s with confidence.
“The home games that we’ve got are quite positive. We’ve beaten all the teams that we’ve been drawn at home, and we just need to go there with a bit of confidence and hopefully finish on a high.”
Championship Shield fixtures:
Sun 12 Aug: Featherstone A (3pm)
Sun 19 Aug: Dewsbury H (3pm)
Sun 2 Sep: Barrow A (3pm)
Sun 9 Sep: Rochdale H (3pm)
Sun 16 Sep: Sheffield H (3pm)
Sun 23 Sep: Leigh A (3pm)
Sun 30 Sep: Swinton H (3pm)