MATT DISKIN has vowed there will be plenty of change at Batley Bulldogs in 2019, despite having secured the services of two current players for 2019.
Wingers Wayne Reittie and Johnny Campbell have both signed new deals for next season, even though the pair have had limited game-time in this campaign.
Reittie has been the club’s top try-scorer in each of the last three campaigns, and despite missing almost four months of the year with a dislocated shoulder he has still recorded eight tries in 11 matches, including a double in the derby victory over Dewsbury two weeks ago.
Campbell chose to take time away from the sport earlier in the year for personal reasons but last month, scoring two tries in five appearances, and is looking to get back to the form that saw him score a club-record 30 tries in the 2010 season.
Head coach Diskin praised the impact that the duo have had since their returns and is happy to have them signed up.
“I think since Wayne’s returned from injury, and Johnny’s returned from his time away, they’ve both been really positive for us,” he said.
“They’re natural wingers with natural pace, and after missing them most of the year we’re looking forward to working with them for another season.”
The Bulldogs boss has confirmed that a number of players will be moving on at the end of the campaign, and the fates of some appear to be settled already.
League Weekly reported this week that forwards James Harrison and Brad Day are set to join Championship rivals Featherstone Rovers, with Harrison’s performances in particular attracting plenty of admirers this season, while they also say that outside back Jason Crookes is likely to be among further departures.
“As far as I’m aware, Brad Day and James Harrison are leaving,” Diskin said.
“It’s not my place to confirm or deny (where to) as they will speak to the players as I’m sure they will.
“But there’ll be plenty more moving on. We’ve made offers to retain quite a large percentage of the squad, and some of those offers haven’t been taken up unfortunately, so we’re looking elsewhere to bring in some quality recruits to complement our plans for next year.”
In the shorter term, Batley face a trip to Cumbria on Sunday to take on Barrow Raiders in the latest round of Championship Shield fixtures, and Diskin says that a couple of his players could be back in action.
“Sam Smeaton will look to return from injury and James Davey’s training well so we’re just waiting for the medical team to give him the all-clear, so we’re not in a bad position all considered.”
The Bulldogs also have Joel Farrell available after he escaped suspension, receiving a caution for dropping on an opponent with the forearm in the win over Dewsbury.
Batley were beaten 20-18 in sweltering conditions when they last made the trip to Barrow’s Craven Park in early May, and Diskin admits the combination of travel and the Raiders’ style of play makes it a “very tough” fixture.
“They’re scrapping (with us) for that seventh place along with Dewsbury. It’s always tough dealing with the travel and logistics of that, and the fact that they play a really tough brand of rugby as well.”
“They got the better of us earlier in the year in the last minute of the game, so it all sets up for a good quality fixture.”