DEWSBURY RAMS have confirmed five signings for 2015, including Batley Bulldogs captain Byron Smith.
Smith, a former Castleford Tigers prop, has signed a one-year deal, along with Barrow Raiders winger Dalton Grant, Halifax full-back Ryan Fieldhouse and Swinton Lions forward Josh Barlow.
Winger/centre Sam Wood, who has been playing for Rams on loan from Bradford Bulls, has penned a two-year contract.
Rams coach Glenn Morrison said: “With Ewan Dowes retiring we needed a senior player to replace him. Byron fits all of the attributes we need and is a leader alongside being a quality front-rower.”
The team boss also has high hopes for his other recruits.
He added: “Dalton is one of the best wingers in the competition and is Super League standard. I am very excited about him coming on board.
“To me Ryan is the best full-back in the competition. He is also a top try scorer in a top-four team, which shows great quality and he is also safe in defence.
“Josh is an experienced player and can play in three or four different positions. He is great to have in the squad.
“Sam is a 20-year-old with Super League experience and is a talent of the future. There is lots of potential.”
Meanwhile, Morrison reckons Rams can cope without suspended forward Makali Aizue in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship elimination semi-final at Halifax.
The prop was banned for one game after being found guilty of making a Grade C shoulder charge in last weekend’s win over Workington.
The usual suspension for a Grade C offence is two-to-three matches, but an RFL spokesman said the tribunal “took into consideration his excellent previous disciplinary record in handing down the sanction.”
Morrison said: “We’ve got a few options. Jason Muranka could come in, or we could bring Austin Buchanan or Louis Sheriff in and shuffle someone else around into the forwards.”
Hunslet Hawks hope to welcome back prop Lewis Reed and on-loan Leeds Rhinos utility-player Luke Briscoe for Sunday’s Championship One elimination tie at home to Gateshead Thunder.
Reed has recovered from an ankle injury and Briscoe, who missed last Friday’s loss to Oldham, will feature if he passes a fitness test on a damaged foot.
Danny Ansell is also in contention, but Luke Stenchion (fractured cheekbone) and James Coyle (calf) have been ruled out.