The official website caught up with Bulldogs' head coach John Kear on Thursday afternoon ahead of a busy programme of games in the next ten days.
Having secured another important and hard-earned victory at Workington, JK seemed content with Batley's current situation. "I was very happy with Sunday," explained Kear, "It was a 180 mile round trip, and we have no resources for an overnight stay, so to do it all in one day on a slow, heavy pitch, I really must applaud the players, both for their application and performance. I was impressed with Anthony Mullally - he went really well. He trained with us in the run-up to the game and was comfortable with the group. Any dual-registered players need to feel part of the group and Anthony certainly did."
Kear now has the Swinton Lions in his sights, but admitted that Saturday's opponents represent something of a mystery: "Swinton possess a fairly small squad, and have a reliance on their partnership with Warrington. They have good players such as Watson, Penny, the Hawkyards, Brad Dwyer and Mark Smith at their disposal, but they rarely seem to have the same line-up two weeks in a row so it makes it more difficult to prepare, but we are looking forward to the challenge this weekend, weather permitting!"
In injury news, the Bulldogs go into Saturday's game with Danny Maun, Greg Johnson and Dan Fleming all set to feature. Paul Mennell will be relieved after last week's fracture scare proved unfounded after X-rays, and elsewhere Gareth Moore should be available for Challenge Cup duty and Mark Applegarth will be targeting a return against Featherstone. Ash Lindsay is now near to recovery from injury and should feature over the Easter period.
The Bulldogs' head coach clearly has his eye not only on Saturday's clash with Swinton, but also the forthcoming Easter programme which will see his side play three times in the space of ten days. "We are looking ahead here to a three-match mini-campaign and it is likely that everyone in the squad will get a run out in these games. We need to keep things fresh and put in three good performances. Jay Leary playing at Workington means that everyone has now had at least one game; the Easter period will give everyone a chance to stake a claim for a first team spot".
With his side continuing to play a bright, expansive game at the moment, JK was keen to enthuse about the impact of some of the newer signings, who were brought in to complement the existing squad and forge the exciting current brand of rugby. "Greg Johnson, Miles Greenwood and Ayden Faal are all dangerous with ball in hand, Tom Hemingway is growing in confidence game by game and both John Davies and Alex Rowe are demonstrating both power and skill. I am pleased with the way they are all fitting into team structure".
"At 1, 2 and 5 we have some superb options - quick, strong, evasive players and this has been illustrated by the fact that 15 of our 31 tries so far this season have come from these positions. I'm looking forward to when the pitches and weather improve as we will continue to strengthen in better conditions" continued the Bulldogs head coach.
Kear went on to heap further praise on second-rower Davies, who has had a phenomenal first quarter on the season and has been a candidate for man of the match virtually every game: "The way John plays and the amount of work he does, he may make the odd error but that is only to be expected with his outstanding workrate. In fact all the forward pack has been excellent of late, particularly during the absence of Mark Applegarth and Ash Lindsay."
Despite dropping into the Kingstone Press Cider Championship, JK concluded by reaffirming his delight at being at the Bulldogs: "It's a great club. Before I came here, no-one had a bad word to say about the place and they were right. It's an inclusive set-up, and people enjoy being in and around the club, and so do I!!"
John Kear was in conversation with Mark Ward.
The Bulldogs host the Swinton Lions at the LoveRugbyLeague.com Stadium on Saturday at 2pm. Due to the potential adverse weather conditions, please check the official website, Facebook and Twitter for updates on Friday and Saturday.