GOSSIP: Wakefield closing in on Batley duo

John Kear is set to raid his current club, with Batley players Keegan Hirst and Chris Ulugia set to follow Kear to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in 2017.

The current Bulldogs head coach will leave the Championship club at the end of the season, joining the Wildcats as their director of rugby. And although he has yet to officially start in the role, TotalRL understands that he has already sorted a deal to ensure Batley-born forward Hirst and former Bradford centre Ulugia join him across West Yorkshire next season.

Hirst is currently in his second spell at Batley after leaving the club to join Featherstone in 2014. But he has been in terrific form ever since returning to Mount Pleasant, becoming a fan favourite for his strong displays down the middle.

Meanwhile, Ulugia is currently in his first full season at Batley having joined the club from Bradford. The 24-year-old spent time on loan at the Bulldogs last year and has become renowned for some huge tackles that have made him a feared opponent in the Championship.

The news will be a bitter blow for Batley, who now face the prospect of their squad being dismantled ahead of Kear’s departure. A number of players have committed their future to the club in recent weeks, however, with Shaun Ainscough one of the latest to agree new terms.