Thursday, 15 June 2017


Bullsh*t detector: The RFL's investigation into Bradford's
liquidation went to extreme lengths.
The big news coming out of Bradford this week is that Geoff Toovey has finally got his visa to coach the Bulls after a five month 'holiday' in Weast Yorkshire. The former Manly stalwart taks the reins for this Sunday's game at Spotland - and with Bradford still paying of their 12 point penalty for going toes-up in the off season, Toovey is wasting no time in talking up his side's chances.

In the Bradford Telegraph and Argus this week he said: "The last couple of months has been very difficult with injuries and now suspensions, so this is one positive step and hopefully we can take another one by winning at the weekend."

 "The players are fairly young and inexperienced. We can deal with adversity but we can't seem to maintain that level of consistency, whether that be during the game or week-to-week. So we need to learn how to stay in contests and how to compete for the full 80 minutes. That's very difficult when you've been put in a situation like this."

Indeed, Bradford are currently mired in the trough of an 8-game losing slump - and remain 8 points behind Dewsbury in the table - and Toovey has wasted no time in sniffing the air for reinforcements for his beleaguered squad.

Again in the T&A he said: "We're actively looking. I can't say too much but we're really in the market. Unfortunately so are many other clubs at this stage of the year. There's not too many players out there at the moment, and those that are good quality have been picked up already."

"That search does include Australia but they're in the midst of a season as well, so obviously they need their players. But you can always pick up the odd one or two that have slipped through the cracks and that's what we'll be aiming to do."

"Bringing those reinforcements in would definitely boost our hopes of survival but hopefully we can win a few more games before that happens and give ourselves a chance."

And he needs 'em fast at the moment - especially after contentious Aussie signing Dane Chisholm (signed for a rumoured £10,000 after a contractual tug-of-war with Sheffield) blew up 60 minutes into his debut and faces the remainder of the year recovering from a knee reconstruction.

Less than a than a week in the post, Toovey is bemoaning Bradford's bad fortune this season: "Our bad luck started with Easter weekend, when all the loan players were called back, and over the last few weeks it's been a combination of injuries and suspensions, meaning we've only had 18 players to select from,"

"Those hurdles, including the Dane Chisholm injury and then relying on some steady loan players – which we're very grateful for – does make it very difficult to organise game-plans and training sessions. So we're hoping for a bit more luck going forward."

Lovers of irony will have noticed that Bradford only have a squad of 18 courtesy of four loan players from former bitter rivals Leeds Rhinos. and the quartet of Jordan Lilley, Cameron Smith (not that one), Sam Hallas and Mikolaj Oledzki (whose name gets you 130 at Scrabble) have agreed a week to week extension to their ongoing loan deals.

Last week Bradford spectacularly imploded at Featherstone.Leading 12-10 at the break, they shipped  26 unanswered second-half points to crash by 12-36 - the score blown-out by two tries in three minutes at the death, as the Bulls faded badly.

Hornets also come into the game on the back of a defeat, but you can't read too much into last week's result at Toulouse. With six debutants plugging holes in a patched-up side, it was an uphill task from the off, but with several first choice players back in contention this week, Hornets should be in decent shape to try and prevent Bradford getting to that long-awaited zero points.

Jono Smith, Chris Riley, Gary Middlehurst, Jo Taira and Lee Mitchell are all in line for a recall, alongside Leigh loanee hooker Lewis Foster and re-signed prop Anthony Walker, rejoining Hornets after a stint at Wakefield to add a bit of grit and mobility up front.

This one should be an intriguing contest - and both sides see it as a catalyst for the rest of the season. But for us here at TLCRF80mins if someone had said to us three years ago that we had a great chance to do the double over Bradford Bulls, I'd have laughed at them. But it's on, it's real - and it's happening on Sunday. These are the games we signed up for folks: don't miss the Battle with the Cattle - it'll be a cracker.