The consistency and versatility of Joe Batley has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension from Warriors.
Batley, 24, arrived at Sixways from Bristol Bears last summer and, having recovered from early injury setbacks in his Warriors career, he made his debut as a replacement in the final match of last season against Saracens.
Batley has made ten appearances this season – seven as a starter – at blindside flanker, number eight or lock and scored his first try for the club against Bath Rugby at The Rec on Saturday.
Having signed on an initial one-year contract, Batley is now committed to Warriors to the end of the 2022/23 season.
“I am delighted that Bats has re-signed. I worked closely with him before at Bristol so I know him pretty well,” said Warriors Head Coach Jonathan Thomas.
“He’s gone through some adversity in his life but he has always had huge potential and it has been about him having an opportunity to fulfil that potential.
“He came here on a one-year deal and he had a couple injuries early on but recently he has been playing every week and he has shown what a quality player he is.
“Most importantly his versatility has been invaluable to the team. In the last three weeks he has played six, eight and five.
“Bats is a big man, he’s athletic, he’s got good skills and he is very powerful. He also knows that there is a huge amount of growth left in him.
“We were determined to keep Bats because we didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity for him to continue the great work he is doing and to continue his development.
“We really feel that he can become one of the best players in his position. He’s still a young man and he hasn’t played a huge amount of consecutive games so the challenge for him is to keep growing and improving so that he fulfils his potential.
“Off the field he’s a huge personality. The players love him. He’s great for team culture, he drives standards and he leads the lineout.
“So it’s the man off the field as well as the man on the field. This can be a serious business and Bats is an energiser, a ball of fun if you like, which is what you need.”
The adversity that Thomas refers to is Hodgkin lymphoma which was diagnosed in March 2018 and which Batley successfully overcame to resume his rugby career.
It was a less serious, but frustrating, toe injury that forced Batley to wait for a run of games with Warriors.
“The reason I came here to start with is because of Jonathan Thomas and Mark Irish, who I worked with at Bristol,” Batley said.
“I have got a really good relationship with them and I feel like they have grown my game massively. Matt Sherratt has also improved my attacking game so it is a really good fit for me.
“I have enjoyed getting to know the boys, being part of the team and I know that we have a big future if we can keep improving the way we are. If we can keep doing that then the results will turn.
“It was frustrating for me that, after a massive lockdown, the first opportunity I had to play rugby again, I got a toe injury. It was in an awkward place and I was unlucky but no I am kicking on, playing in different positions and I am really happy here.”
Batley, a product of the Gosport & Fareham club in his native Hampshire, came through Gloucester’s academy before he joined Bristol and had a spell on loan at Leicester Tigers last season before he was signed by Warriors Director of Rugby Alan Solomons.
“I am really pleased that Bats has decided to extend his stay with us here at Sixways,” Solomons said.
“He is in a rich vein of form at the moment and is a versatile player who is equally at home at lock, six or eight.
“He is a big, athletic man, who is still in the infancy of his career and I have no doubt that he will make his mark in the years to come. He is also a terrific character and we look forward to continuing working with him.”