Ever the underdog, Batley are a very persistent team and there will eventually come a time when that tag comes off.
Head Coach Matt Diskin has instilled a new brand of rugby in his Batley side and they now play with more attacking freedom, rather than battling for a result week in week out.
Louis Jouffret was instrumental at the end of 2018 and has rejoined the Bulldogs for 2019.
A string of nine losses, followed by seven wins out of eight sows that the Bulldogs can maintain a high level of performance when needed.
If they can take that consistency into 2019, I don’t see why Batley can’t break into the top half of the table. However, they have one of the smallest squads in the Championship, with just 24 players given a squad number.
With such limited numbers, if they suffer any injuries the Bulldogs could find themselves falling down the pecking order.
Two of their opening three games are tough, with visits to The Shay to face Halifax in round two and a trip to Featherstone in round three. Their season really depends on these two results. If they can pick up a win from at least one of the games, they will be confident that they can pick up shocks elsewhere in the season.
Dave Scott, Wayne Reittie, Sam Smeaton, Lewis Galbraith, Johnny Campbell, Louis Jouffret, Dam Brambani, Adam Gledhill, Alistair Leak, Dane Manning, Jack Downs, James Brown, Danny Yates, Toby Everett, Michael Ward, Tyler Dickinson, Tom Hemingway, Alex Bretherton, Niall Walker, Jo Taira, Sam Wood, Keenan Tomlinson.
Jack Downs (Hull FC), Toby Everett (Dewsbury Rams), Jo Taira (Rochdale Hornets), Tyler Dickinson (Huddersfield Giants), Johnny Campbell (unattached), Izaac Farrell (Huddersfield Giants – loan), Jouis Jouffret (Catalans Dragons), Sam Wood (Huddersfield Giants – loan).
Alex Rowe (Newcastle Thunder), James Davey (Sheffield Eagles), Jason Crookes (Sheffield Eagles), Joel Farrell (Sheffield Eagles), Cain Southernwood (Hunslet), James Harrison (Featherstone Rovers), Shaun Ainscough (Rochdale Hornets), Brad Day (Featherstone Rovers).
PREDICTED LEAGUE FINISH – 9th