Heavy Woollen amateurs given chance to impress against Batley Bulldogs

Ross Hayden, in rugby union action for Cleckheaton, has been in terrific form for Mirfield Stags since switching codes.
Ross Hayden, in rugby union action for Cleckheaton, has been in terrific form for Mirfield Stags since switching codes.

A talented group of Heavy Woollen amateur players will get chance to shine on the professional stage when they take on Batley Bulldogs next Sunday (January 17).

For the second successive season, Batley will host the crop of the area’s best amateur players as part of their pre-season programme.

Former Batley centre Danny Maun, who is now part of the Bulldogs coaching set-up, will select the Heavy Woollen team alongside Birstall Victoria coach Richard Hunter.

Maun has seen promise in several of the Heavy Woollen squad and hopes they grasp their chance to shine in front of Bulldogs and Wales coach John Kear.

The Heavy Woollen took a third minute lead in last season’s inaugural match, through a George Croisdale try, before Batley showed their class to run out 68-6 winners.

Maun believes his Heavy Woollen side will be stronger next week having added experience to their ranks.

Maun said: “We have selected Thornhill players Joel Gibson, Danny Ratcliffe and Luke Haigh to the squad and they have played at the higher level so hopefully will offer a calming influence on the field.

“I have seen the talent and I feel sure some of these players could make it but they need to believe in themselves and take their chance.

“Nobody would have believed Alex Walmsley could come from the amateur game to become a Super League man-of-steel nominee and would have played for England had it not been for injury.

“Alex is proof to these players that it can be done and if they play well on the day and catch the eye, they could be given a chance.”

Full-back Ross Hayden is relatively new to rugby league having played most his career with Cleckheaton RU until switching to Mirfield Stags last summer.

Hayden is the Stags leading try scorer in their current Pennine League campaign and Maun is looking forward to him showcasing his raw speed.

Maun added: “Ross is new to league but I know he can be an asset with the correct coaching and it would be great if he could get a chance to show John Kear his speed.

“George Croisdale has had spells at Warrington and Huddersfield and Dewsbury Celtic’s Callum Wilkins is another name being touted about.”

Maun admits he relishes watching local amateur games and is keen to note down local players who impress.

Adam Bingham (Batley Boys), Braden Hunter (Birstall Victoria) and powerful front rower Wayne Jowitt (Mirfield Stags) are among those who have caught Maun’s eye.

Maun added: “The idea of these local lads getting to come up against a professional side like Batley is great.

“I know John Kear loves it too, I just hope somebody is able to take their chance.

“There is a lot of talent in this area and is also great to see players from different clubs coming together, which I don’t think we see enough of.”

Batley Boys were due to host local rivals Mirfield Stags in the Pennine League Championship this Saturday — a match which Maun was planning to attend — but it has fallen victim to the weather after Kirklees cancelled all matches on Council managed pitches.