AS coach Glenn Barraclough feared, West Bowling have lost some of their star players to the semi-professional game.

Betfred League One side Hemel Stags – opponents of Bradford Bulls this season – have signed West’s half-back Liam Coe and hooker Danny Halmshaw, who was named divisional player of the season last year as they won National Conference Division Three.

“Both were key players for us last season,” said divisional coach of the year Barraclough, “but we have a good youth set-up and will give opportunities to players such as hooker Kieron Baker.”

However, Bowling will welcome back Max Trueman from injury.

Trueman has been out for almost a season with a serious knee injury and is currently making his union comeback with Bradford Salem.

Barraclough said: “Max is a fantastic player and has that same lazy class as his brother Jake, who is doing well with Castleford Tigers, but I think that Max has the ability to be even better than his brother.

"It is just that Jake has had that first break.”

Bowling are due to have a hit-out at Lindley Swifts a week tomorrow and start their National Two programme at Dewsbury Moor Maroons on March 3.

Halmshaw will be in a three-way fight for a Stags starting spot with Jono Burns and Kevin Rowe.

Hemel’s director of rugby Dean Thomas said: “Danny previously spent time with the Gold Coast Titans playing for their under-20s and feeder team. He’s come back wiser and more mature and has got bags of ability.

“Liam Coe joined us at the start of last season and did so well for us that Dewsbury signed him from us.

“He was later released and went to play with West Bowling to get his confidence back. He is raring to go after a good spell with them.”

In the Pennine League, there is a mid-table Division Two Central clash between Wyke and Wortley Dragons.

Both clubs are on eight points, although Wyke have a game in hand as they bid to catch fourth-placed Clayton.