Batley Bulldogs tie down FIVE key players for 2022 season

CRAIG Lingard believes that Batley Bulldogs will become a more attractive destination for players after the club tied down five key players for the 2022 campaign.

By Ben McKenna
Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 1:10 pm
STAYING PUT: Ben White, Tom Gilmore, Alistair Leak and Luke Hooley. Pictures:
STAYING PUT: Ben White, Tom Gilmore, Alistair Leak and Luke Hooley. Pictures:

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Gilmore, White, Leak and Hooley have provided a strong spine for Batley as they edge closer to the Championship play-offs while Manning has continued to be a consistent performer in the Bulldogs forward pack.

With players already on board for another season, Lingard feels negotiations to retain more players and bringing in new recruits will be made easier moving forward.

NEW DEAL: For Batley's Dane Manning. Picture: Chris Mangnall/

“We identified the key players we wanted to get tied down. We have now got our number one, six, seven and nine and once you have done that, everything else can fall in around that,” explained the Bulldogs coach.

“It is difficult when you are trying to re-sign or sign players and they ask who is already signed and if you haven’t got these key players then it puts doubts in peoples’ minds.

“We can go into negotiations now and tell people we have got the spine of the team tied down. It makes it a lot easier for the remainder of our retention and recruitment.

“We didn’t get Tom Gilmore in until the last minute last year and that was more by luck than judgement as we were still struggling for a half-back at that point but his deal fell through with Ottawa.

“Luckily for us and luckily for Tom that partnership developed and I am really pleased that Tom has decided to give us another year.

“He had other offers from other clubs but after the year we had this year, he said he wanted to give it another season with us.”

Batley look set to finish in the Championship play-offs in what will be the club’s most successful season since they finished third in 2016.

After an impressive year, Lingard is pleased that some of the club’s top talent is staying put.

In previous years, the Bulldogs have struggled to retain key players following success and Lingard is delighted that the work put in to retain players is paying off.

He continued: “It is something Batley have always struggled with after they have had a good season, the team does well and then the players get cherry picked.

“It happened in 2010 when they won the Northern Rail Cup, in 2013 when they reached the Championship Grand Final and then in 2016 when they got to the Super 8s after finishing third in the league.

“We were really conscious of that and didn’t want our best players being cherry picked, particularly with such an important year coming up next year.

“We knew it was important to secure our better players. It was really significant for us to get those four players tied down.”

The signings have been made possible with the support of Batley Independent Supporters' Squadbuilder Association (BISSA) who work tirelessly in supporting the club with vital funds. Learn more about their work HERE.