Batley Bulldogs swoop to sign brothers, who are the sons of former Leeds Rhinos playmaker

Ben Olawumi
The Fox's Biscuits Stadium, Batley Bulldogs

The Fox's Biscuits Stadium, home of Batley Bulldogs - Alamy

Batley Bulldogs have swooped to sign siblings Joe and David Gibbons Jr, the sons of former Leeds Rhinos half-back David Sr, with both having gained experience of their own in Super League academies.

The eldest of the two brothers, David Jr will turn 22 this coming Monday – November 27 – and follows in his father’s footsteps as a playmaker.

He had been in the youth setup at Warrington Wolves, loaned out to Hunslet for the 2021 season, making nine appearances before sealing a permanent contract with the ‘Parksiders’.

Midway through 2022 however, he departed the South Leeds Stadium and moved across the city, joining Super League giants Leeds’ reserves.

While with Leeds, who dad David Sr featured seven times for back in 1996 in the inaugural Super League season, the half-back appeared twice on dual-registration in the Championship for big-hitters Bradford Bulls.

And after spending this year back in League 1 on with beaten play-off finalists North Wales Crusaders, scoring six tries in 13 appearances, the youngster now links up with Batley ahead of 2024 alongside brother Joe.

Batley Bulldogs swoop to sign ‘Gibbons’ brothers, the sons of former Leeds Rhinos playmaker David Sr

Second-rower Joe’s path in the game has been a slightly more straight forward one, picked up from local outfit Wetherby Bulldogs by Leeds as a teenager, going on to sign an academy contract at the end of 2019.

The prop – who himself turns 21 on December 5 – progressed into the Reserves at Headingley ahead of the 2022 campaign, featuring in nine of the 13 games the Rhinos’ youngsters played that year, scoring six tries.

May 2022 also saw now-20-year-old Joe earn his first minutes in the senior game, featuring twice for League 1 outfit Cornwall.

His performances in 2022 were enough to earn him a first-team squad number – 33 – in the Rhinos first-team ahead of the season just gone, though he didn’t register a competitive appearance for Rohan Smith’s men.

Instead, he once again featured for the club’s reserves alongside making six appearances in the Championship on loan with Keighley Cougars. While with the Cougars, in a win against Bradford Bulls, he scored a first-ever senior try.

He too will star in the second tier on a permanent basis in 2024, lining up at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium under new Bulldogs boss Mark Moxon. Former Huddersfield Giants ace has stepped up to take the hotseat at Batley having been assistant to now-Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard.

David Gibbons Sr – A career overview

The brothers’ dad – David Sr – is actually a twin himself, to another former Rhino in Anthony Gibbons. Now 47, David Sr departed Leeds at the end of that 1996 season having scored two tries in his seven appearances. Both came in the same game, a 36-22 victory at home against Sheffield Eagles.

Gibbons’ next destination was Keighley, where he spent a year, before moving on to spend the next three with Bramley, then a Championship club with the second division known as the ‘Northern Ford Premiership’.

Bramley resigned from the Championship at the end of the 1999 season amidst financial issues, hoping to become a feeder team for their Super League neighbours Leeds, though this never materialised.

Instead, half-back Gibbons moved on to Oldham at the turn of the millennium, amassing nearly 100 appearances for the Roughyeds in the three years which followed as he crossed for 37 tries.

In another similarity to his sons all these years later, David Sr would link up with Batley for the 2003 season. The Bulldogs though will be hoping David Jr and Joe stick around for longer than the 12 months their old man did, with the now-47-year-old featuring on just 14 occasions before securing a switch back to Oldham.

Making just two appearances in 2004 back with the Roughyeds, one of which against former club Keighley, Gibbons played at centre. Like son David Sr, the veteran would join Hunslet, ending his career with a three-year stint donning the Parksiders shirt.

After 29 appearances between 2005 and 2007, he eventually called time on his career, with his last-ever hit-out a 32-4 defeat on home soil to Barrow Raiders.

Now, both Gibbons Sr and his twin brother Anthony are part of the new-look backroom team at Batley. Two sets of brothers – a right old family affair!

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