Sheffield Eagles have confirmed the return of hooker James Davey on a two-year deal.
Director of rugby Mark Aston had promised deals would be completed early for 2019, with Davey the first of a number of new arrivals expected as he looks to overhaul his squad for next season.
Davey, who starred for Batley in their 44-4 victory over the Eagles at Mount Pleasant, returns to the Steel City after joining the Bulldogs from the Eagles in 2015.
The 29-year-old is one of what is expected to be a cluster of former Eagles brought back to help recreate the dressing room atmosphere which Aston says has been lacking in recent seasons.
Aston told The Star: “James is a champion of a lad and he epitomises what we want. He trains hard, he is positive, he has a smile on his face all the time. Can he play? Well, he ripped us to bits at times today. He can certainly play.
“He is a kid that still wants to learn and still wants to get better. He is well thought of by anyone who has played with him. He is that sort of kid that we are desperate to get back and help us."
Davey’s initial departure was brought about by the club’s ill-fated switch to full-time status, with Aston stating that he never wanted to lose the ex-Wakefield ace.
Aston has never recovered the success he had prior to the full-time switch, but the noises inside the camp suggest he is putting together a much improved unit for next term – with Davey right at the heart of his plans going forward.
“We have had a good relationship through his first spell here,” Aston added.
“We kept in touch. We know the reason he left last time. He wanted to stay but he was qualifying as an electrician when we went full-time.
“He was desperate to stay but I had to say to him ‘listen you need to finish your qualification because if anything goes wrong, at least you have it behind you’. He was gutted, and we were gutted to lose him. To get him back is certainly a shot in the arm for us and a signal of our intent because as far as I am concerned he is one of the best nines in the competition.
“He is still only young and he has plenty of years left in him. He is experienced and he has an attitude that will certainly be invaluable to us, there is no doubt about that.”