Lucas Walshaw has crossed the Heavy Woollen divide, leaving Dewsbury for the Bulldogs. Pic: Simon Hall
BATLEY BULLDOGS boss Craig Lingard is happy with how his squad is shaping up after the arrivals this week of Luke Hooley and Lucas Walshaw.
Full-back Hooley joins from Wakefield while back-rower Walshaw has made the switch from Heavy Woollen rivals Dewsbury.
They join ex-Barrow half-back Ben White in moving to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, while negotiations with last season’s squad are almost complete.
Hooley, 21, was released by Wakefield at the end of the season without making a Super League appearance for the club, but has enjoyed loan spells over the past three years at both Dewsbury and Oldham.
“He comes highly recommended,” said Lingard. “He’s not just coming straight out of the academy system and learning how to play against men, he’s been doing that for the last three seasons.
“He gives us a little bit of competition with Dave Scott at full-back. He’s got something a little bit different to what Dave has so they’ll be challenging each other, but Luke can also cover in the halves or at centre as well, so he gives us some versatility.”
Walshaw, 27, has joined the Bulldogs from neighbours Dewsbury, where he had no fewer than five spells. After spending time on loan across four seasons, first from Wakefield and then Bradford, he signed permanently in 2017 and has made 115 appearances in total for the Rams.
Lingard said: “Lucas is a big old thing. He’s troubled Batley on numerous occasions when they’ve played against Dewsbury in the past. He gives us some strike on that edge and he’s a threat from cross-field kicks as well.
“He’s got that Championship experience that we’re looking for, and if needed he can drop in at centre. Obviously I know him as a back-row but I’m hoping he can cause a bit of damage out there on the edges.”
That pair add to the first off-season capture announced by the club last week, with Lingard also expecting good things from 24-year-old White.
“He plays primarily as a half-back but he can cover multiple positions,” he said. “He can cover at centre, he can cover at nine and he can drop in at 13 as well, so he gives us a lot of options.
“He’s got a good organisational game to him and his kicking game is good as well, so I think he’s going to be a strong acquisition for us.”
Lingard confirmed that other deals have been done and are ready to be announced by the club, while two others have agreed terms and are ready to sign.
Batley have 16 players confirmed for the 2020 season so far, including hooker Alistair Leak who has agreed a new deal to stay at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium for an eighth season.
Centre Sam Smeaton has accepted an offer from League One side Doncaster for next season, leaving only wingers Johnny Campbell and Niall Walker yet to make up their minds on their destination for next season.
Offers have gone out to both players but the speedsters are currently considering other options.
Looking at business still to be completed, Lingard said: “We’ll be speaking to people in a number of positions; (mainly) half-back, hooker and centre.
“We’re in advanced negotiations with a couple of players. There are a couple more middles that we’re talking to at the minute but we’re quite strong in the forwards. We could do with one or two more in that department just to add competition for places.”