HEAD COACH John Kear is calling on controversial new signing Greg Johnson to win over the Batley faithful while rebuilding career life at Mount Pleasant, having being brought in as a direct replacement for Super Leaguebound winger Alex Brown.
Johnson, who last week finished a twoyear jail term after being found guilty of assault on a woman in Huddersfield, has been reunited with boss Kear following a stint under him at Wakefield.
On Tuesday the Bulldogs confirmed star man Brown’s departure to Hull Kingston Rovers on a oneyear deal, and Kear acted fast to tie up an alternative in the shape of paceman Johnson.
The former Huddersfield speedster, who played alongside Brown during his academy days and enjoyed a brief loan spell with Batley in 2010, is set to provide an exciting brand of pace and power, according to Kear.
“This is a chance for Greg to resurrect his career and rebuild his life,” claimed the exEngland boss, who has revealed how he will trial four amateur players from Bramley during the offseason.
“He made a big mistake, he’s served his punishment and it can’t be held against him forever.
“Greg is extremely similar to Alex. He boasts an impressive mix of power and pace and, in my opinion, he is an outandout Super League player so we have ourselves a real gem.
“I fully expect him to win over the Batley supporters. Our fans love to see commitment to the cause and in Greg they will get that in abundance.
“But he has a lot of catching up to do but I am confident in his ability and I believe he will play a key role.
“We needed a replacement with Alex (Brown) leaving and I feel sure Greg can fill the void.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose another great player, but it’s very pleasing to see a second player, from Batley, agree terms with a Super League club.
“I wish him well and his departure, like Alex Walmsley’s, is continuing to do wonders for this club in terms of our recruitment.
“Players are looking to sign for us ahead of others and that can only be a good thing in my eyes.”
Little more than 24 hours after Johnson’s arrival, the club agreed a oneyear deal to bring back another former Bulldog in the shape of Birstall lad Tom Hemingway.
The 25yearold halfback or hooker enjoyed a brief stint with the club back in 2008 and will act as direct cover for Ben Black and Gareth Moore.
Meanwhile, backrower Johnny Walker has announced his retirement – aged just 24.
The former Super League player missed much of the second half of the 2012 Cooperative Championship campaign after sustaining serious head injuries and has subsequently called time on his career following advice from specialists and club medical staff.