Batley Bulldogs return for what will hopefully be their first full season under head coach Craig Lingard.
Lingard managed 11 playing seasons with the club, scoring over 140 tries in just over 200 appearances, but can he bring glory back to the club?!
Here we name his potential first-choice 17.
Full-back: Luke Hooley
Former Wakefield youngster Luke Hooley joined last season and featured regularly prior to the national lockdown. He has promise and could develop some consistency heading forward.
Wingers: Wayne Reittie & Johnny Campbell
In his second spell for the Bulldogs, Wayne Reittie is averaging a try in just under every two appearances he makes for the club, so he will be included. In what will hopefully be his tenth full season for the club, Johnny Campbell should remain a regular on the wing. Similar to Reittie, he effectively averages a try in every two of his games for the Bulldogs and should they wish to compete, they will hope to retain both wingers in 2021.
Centres: Jack Logan & Kieran Buchanan
After a hit and miss period at Hull FC and several loan spells, Jack Logan has found a new permanent club in Batley.Logan demonstrated quality for Hull as well as Toronto Wolfpack and his time now at Batley could well see him rediscover his best form. Kieran Buchanan is in a similar position, having not had enough luck to feature regularly enough for Hull but showed he knew his way to the try line and could well get some much needed confidence with the Bulldogs.
Stand-off: Ben White
Ben White perhaps had his best days during his three years with the Swinton Lions, helping them up to the Championship in 2015, where they have remained since. Now entering his second year with Batley, White has been a frequent try scorer during his career, as well as a good goal kicker and an influential figure, so he should gain regular time for the Bulldogs this season.
Scrum-half: Tom Gilmore
Never had chance to get going at Halifax, but Tom Gilmore has shown he has skill, especially during his time at Widnes Vikings. Having scored over 200 points for the Vikings, Gilmore will be a valuable asset to the Bulldogs, who, combined with White, could cause havoc for many opposition sides in 2021.
Props: Adam Gledhill & Toby Everett
Adam Gledhill has been a loyal servant to the club since 2014, and his consistency will be rewarded with more regular game time heading into 2021. Toby Everett has been a frequent player in the Championship with several clubs. He will help provide the Bulldogs with more ‘go forward’ and aid them with some strong defence.
Hooker: Alistair Leak
Alistair Leak is set for ninth season at the club. Averaging a try in every three of his appearances, Leak is quick from the ruck and organises the forward pack superbly.
Second-rowers: Dane Manning & Lucas Walshaw
Dane Manning is set for his fifth year at the club, after a further five years at previous club Halifax. The 31-year-old is a ‘no nonsense’ type player who does the hard graft week in week out and will continue to do so in 2021. After three years at Dewsbury Rams, Lucas Walshaw joined Batley last year and will hope for more game time this season. Though it did not work out for him at Wakefield, Walshaw can become an excellent support player for the Bulldogs.
Loose-forward: James Brown
James Brown is currently enjoying a stronger period with the Bulldogs than he did at Swinton Lions arguably. The unit provides the Bulldogs with the extra yards, arguably being an extra ‘prop’ and adding size to the team.
After over 200 appearances between Featherstone and Halifax, Ben Kaye has found a new club in Batley. Kaye has always been a hard worker and having a hooker on the substitute bench can provide the Bulldogs with extra energy from acting half.
Prop Jack Blagbrough has been around several Championship clubs, with Batley now his latest challenge. He is a difficult player to tackle and is just the type of player Lingard could do with on a regular basis.
Irish international Michael Ward will be another good forward to bring off the bench. After a strong spell with Oldham, he is now in his fourth year at Bulldogs, having made over 225 professional appearances between both clubs.
Former Super League star and England Knight Jodie Broughton will possibly complete their line-up. The 33-year-old may be approaching the end of his career but, considering he has managed over 125 tries in 200 appearances, could well continue his great career form with the Bulldogs.