Batley Bulldogs have made five signings ahead of their 2023 Championship campaign, including Wales international captain Elliot Kear.
Craig Lingard’s side defied the odds last season by reaching the Championship Grand Final, defeating Featherstone on the way before falling short to Leigh for a place in Super League.
Since then, the club have made just five additions to their squad during the off-season, including former Super League outside-back Kear.
The 34-year-old captained Wales at the delayed 2021 World Cup, and makes the switch from Bradford. He has also previously featured for London Broncos and Salford.
Keegan Hirst returns to the field, having initially retired in October 2020. The 34-year-old prop forward, who became the first British professional rugby league player to come out as gay, has made almost 300 career appearances for Hunslet, Dewsbury, Batley, Featherstone, Wakefield and Halifax.
Former Wigan and Leigh half-back Josh Woods makes the switch from Newcastle Thunder following their return to a part-time model.
Huddersfield youngster Aiden McGowen will join the Championship outfit on season-long loan. The full-back has yet to make his first team debut for the Giants. However, he has enjoyed successful loan spells in the Championship with York and Dewsbury. In 2022, he scored three tries in seven games for the Rams and has previously represented Ireland at Under-19s.
Finally, former Wigan, Warrington and Bradford forward Samy Kibula makes the move to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium for 2023.
Having scored 20 tries in 19 games in 2022, Dale Morton is amongst those to have committed their futures with the club during the off-season. Club captain James Brown and the likes of Alistair Leak, Greg Johnson and Ben White have also signed new deals for 2023.
Luke Hooley headlines the departures having earned an opportunity in Super League with Leeds. Tom Gilmore has also returned to Widnes, having made 56 appearances for Batley. He scored a total of 398 points, including 10 tries, 178 goals and two drop-goals. The half-back only missed one game for the Bulldogs, having joined the side in 2021.
Batley Bulldogs 2023 squad so far
Incomings: Elliot Kear, Keegan Hirst, Aiden McGowen, Josh Woods, Samy Kibula.
Outgoings: Tom Gilmore, Luke Hooley, Perry Whiteley, Louis Collinson.
Backs: Johnny Campbell, George Senior, Greg Johnson, Aiden McGowen, Josh Milthorpe, Kieran Buchanan, Josh Woods, Ben White, Elliot Kear, James Meadows, Josh Hodson, Dale Morton,
Forwards: Martyn Reilly, Keegan Hirst, Dane Manning, Nyle Flynn, Alistair Leak, Luke Blake, Toby Richardson, Ben Kaye, Lucas Walshaw, Michael Ward, Tom Lillycrop, Oliver Burton, James Brown, Adam Gledhill, Samy Kibula.