Batley Bulldogs: Batley cooperating with RFL’s ineligible player investigation

Jacob Fairbank.
Jacob Fairbank.
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BATLEY BULLDOGS are being investigated over concerns they fielded an ineligible player in last Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship win at Sheffield Eagles.

The RFL are looking into whether Huddersfield Giants forward Jacob Fairbank – who was a tryscoring substitute in Bulldogs’ 28-18 victory – was eligible to feature as a dual-registered player.

The investigation is a potential setback to Bulldogs’ hopes of qualifying for the Championship play-offs – and possibly even staying in the second tier next season.

If Bulldogs are found guilty they could face a points deduction and/or a fine.

An RFL spokesman would say only: “We are investigating allegations that Batley Bulldogs fielded an ineligible player against Sheffield Eagles last week.”

But The Yorkshire Evening Post understands it is suggested Fairbank had not played enough games for Bulldogs on dual-registration to feature after last Friday’s Championship signing deadline.

The RFL’s laws state that players must have made at least three appearances before the signing deadline to figure on dual-registration after it.

That law prevented Hunslet Hawks including then-Leeds Rhinos hooker Paul McShane in their side to face Featherstone Rovers at the end of last season, when they needed a positive result to avoid relegation.

The rule was introduced to prevent lower division teams fielding Super League players in crucial six-pointers at the top or foot of the table.

Bulldogs chairman Kevin Nicholas said the club is cooperating with the investigation.

“We haven’t deliberately played somebody when we’ve been told not to play them,” Nicholas stressed. “We have got to provide a response (by today), which we will do and we’ll see what position the RFL take after that.”

The YEP believes the RFL are looking into alleged breaches of the same rule by at least two other clubs. The onus is on clubs to confirm players are eligible before naming them on their teamsheet.

Meanwhile, Bulldogs are awaiting the results of a scan on the knee injury suffered by half-back Ben Black in last Sunday’s win.

Adam Gledhill has recovered from injury and could figure at home to Championship leaders Leigh Centurions on Sunday.

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