Cummins going into tough season
30th January 2013
Even before experiencing his first Super League match as a head coach, Bradford Bulls boss Francis Cummins has achieved some success - by simply putting a team together.
The former Leeds Rhinos winger jumped at the chance of promotion when Australian Mick Potter decided he had had enough of Super League and returned home to coach in the NRL.
But Cummins, 36, knows he faces a difficult first season as the club begins the rebuilding process after almost going to the wall in 2012.
While new owner Omar Khan concentrates on putting Bradford’s finances back in order, it is Cummins’ job to rekindle hopes of a return to the club’s glory days but, operating under severe financial constraints, he knows it could be a long, tough season.
The exodus of a host of experienced players, including Ben Jeffries, Olivier Elima and Bryn Hargreaves, left big gaps that Cummins admits have been difficult to fill while at the same time having to juggle with existing lopsided contracts.
“It’s been really tough to be fair and we’re still on with that,” he said. “Some people have taken pay cuts.
“We’ve had to try and be as fair as possible but it will take another season for us to really get on top of it.”
Cummins’ main recruits have been St Helens goalkicking winger Jamie Foster, who finished last season on loan to Hull FC, and Salford City Reds prop Adam Sidlow, while Warrington Wolves centre Matty Blythe has joined on a season-long loan.
“We’ve got the older people who have been through the trauma of last year who thought their careers could quite possibly end, then we’ve brought in a middle band of players who either couldn’t get a start at another club or weren’t wanted and I’ve got young kids who are desperate to become Super League players,” Cummins said.
“We’ve got an average age of 24, which is really young, but I’m really pleased with the people we’ve got.
“The environment is really good. I’ve got 27 players but that includes three young kids who are probably a year away from being able to play.
“So we’ve got a small squad but I’m really happy with the desire that everyone has got.”
The Bulls also acquired the services of Warrington prop Ben Evans but he will miss the first three months of the season with a hip injury and Cummins is hoping to make another loan signing as cover.
Harder to replace are star forward John Bateman and goalkicking half-back Luke Gale, two of the club’s key players who will miss Sunday’s opening game against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats through injury.
It is little wonder that Cummins is loathe to make any predictions for the season.
“Our goal is about just working really hard for each other, putting teams under pressure and hopefully giving us a chance to play some football because we’ve got some skilful players here,” he said.