CO-CAPTAIN PATCH Walker expects Batley Bulldogs to improve on last year’s sixth-placed finish.
Bulldogs begin their Betfred Championship campaign at Rochdale Hornets on Sunday and Walker reckons they can challenge for a place in the middle-eights when the competition splits at the end of July.
Batley were unbeaten in pre-season and are entering their second campaign under coach Matt Diskin.
“We’re definitely confident,” said Walker, who will captain the team alongside half-back partner Dom Brambani.
“We’ve made a few good signings and they have definitely strengthened the side.
“We had a few teething problems early on last year and we were a bit off the mark with how we started, but we had a good, strong finish to the season.
“We probably could have done a bit better at the end, but we were relatively happy with where we ended up and we want to do a lot better this year.”
Batley were the country’s top part-time team when they finished third in 2016.
Walker admitted it is a “tough ask” to repeat that in a division which includes four full-time sides, but he stressed that is the aim at the start of the year.
“We are there to win and if we can take the full-time teams close and get a few wins in games we’re not expected to win, that’s what we want to do,” said the former Dewsbury Rams and Sheffield Eagles pivot.
“Last year, a lot of people expected us to win every game and it was a bit of a different mentality.
“This year, we are probably back to being underdogs again and I think we’ll thrive off that.”