SECOND row Joe Batchelor may have the lowest profile of the quartet of new boys Saints have brought in during the off-season, but the club have already been impressed with the “late bloomer” and his work ethic.

Unlike Joseph Paulo, Lachlan Coote and Kevin Naiqama, who have joined with a fanfare from the NRL, the 24-year-old packman is jumping up two divisions after signing from League 1 champions York City Knights.

Batchelor, who also operated in the centres last term, enjoyed a fine season for the Minstermen, crossing 23 times in 27 appearances in their promotion-winning campaign.

And coach Justin Holbrook hopes that the winning culture he comes from will be another positive factor.

Batchelor even found time, after signing in the summer, to cross the Pennines for one day a week to train with his new club.

He has now moved over to Newton-le-Willows and has been training full time since the beginning of November.

Holbrook said: “The great thing with Joe Batchelor is that he is like Alex Walmsley in some respects in being a late bloomer in his career.

“I like where he has come from – York, who are a side that has won pretty much every game this year.

“He had options at other clubs when he signed but chose us.

“After signing he asked if he could come over training for a session a week and drove across the M62 every week off his own bat.

“As well as his ability – he is a second row but was judged the best centre in League 1 - it is exciting to have someone like him prepared to work hard before he has even started.”

Both he and the 2017 Championship Young Player of the Year James Bentley will be keeping pressure on the current second row incumbents.

Saints are well blessed in the back row with experienced second row pairing Zeb Taia and Dominique Peyroux the current incumbents, with Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Morgan Knowles and new boy Paulo choices for the loose forward berth but all three also having some versatility.

Batchelor, too, offers versatility, but he is concentrating on putting his head down and working hard in pre-season.

He said: “Second row is my favoured position but I played a bit of centre at York last year, which helped me out learning different roles.

“Although second row is where I see myself, I will play wherever I can get a game.”

The journey to the top-flight has been an unconventional one for Batchelor, who started with Sheffield Eagles before heading Down Under as a 19-year-old. On his return he had to look for another club when Sheffield wound up their reserves, which saw him head south to Coventry.

That rekindled his appetite for the game, and he came on leaps and bounds under James Ford at York.

But still, the thought of joining brother James, who plays for Wakefield Trinity, in the top flight came as a surprise initially - especially from a team as illustrious as Saints.

“I thought it was a wind-up at first,” he said.

“I have followed the game for a long time and when something like that comes along, something you have always wanted and hoped for, then you don’t believe it.

“I had seen from a distance that Saints are club that do things right and that enticed me.

“Nevertheless it was surreal meeting the squad and the real Super League stars for the first time.

“Straight away I saw it as a squad with a real work ethic. They are a good group.

“I kept an eye on Saints after I had signed but then came to the Warrington game at the end.

“It was impressive watching them last year – but hopefully this year we can take a couple of steps further and come home with some silverware.”