“Super coach” John Kear and his Bradford Bulls’ squad is taking shape for another shot at Super League in 2021. But how will they line up?
Full-back: Brandon Pickersgill
Due to enter his fifth year professionally at the club, Brandon Pickersgill is almost averaging a try in every two games he has played, something expected of a consistent back.
Wingers: Matty Dawson-Jones & Joe Brown
After an injury-ravaged short spell with Hull FC followed by 2020 being cancelled with the Bulls, Matty Dawson-Jones will no doubt be hungry for action. During his time at Leigh, he knew his way to the try line, and should continue to be an efficient winger for Bradford. Joe Brown came back from the Wigan academy in 2019 to sign a professional contract and will be eager to impress Kear.
Centres: Rhys Evans & Ross Oakes
Welsh international Rhys Evans is an easy choice. Having scored plenty of tries for the likes of Warrington Wolves and even a spell at Leigh Centurions, his experience and skill will be valuable to the club. Ross Oakes has been at the club for just over five years as a professional, having scored over 25 tries in over 70 appearances, which has been enough to be kept on for the foreseeable.
Stand-off: Danny Brough
At 38-years-old, Danny Brough is still active and is all set to begin the next chapter of his illustrious career with Bradford, no doubt in the hopes of achieving more glory under Kear.
Scrum-half: Jordan Lilley
Jordan Lilley has plied his trade at the club once before during a loan spell and is now in his third year as a Bull. He has shown promise with his kicking game and powerful running and could very well generate a tricky combination with Brough in the halves.
Props: Anthony England & Steve Crossley
Anthony England has been around since 2005, still showing signs of strength and good go forward. Steve Crossley is club captain so he is an obvious choice. Both are powerful and highly-experienced players who should be difficult opponents to handle in 2021.
Hooker: Thomas Doyle
21-year-old Thomas Doyle may not have much experience, but Kear awarding him the number nine jersey is a clear sign of faith and that is something he will not take for granted.
Second-row: Adam Rooks & Aaron Murphy
It may not have worked out for Adam Rooks at Hull Kingston Rovers but now is his chance to shine. Learning from an experienced front row, Rooks could very well develop into an efficient player. Aaron Murphy has 13 years’ experience between Wakefield and Huddersfield and has been a highly consistent performer. That and his ability to rotate between different positions, Murphy will be crucial towards the Bulls’ bid for promotion.
Loose-forward: Sam Hallas
As vice-captain, Sam Hallas will no doubt be a regular in the team. He possesses good go forward and a hard-hitting attitude in defence, hence his status as vice-captain.
Something every team needs, a second hooker available. At 34-years-old, George Flanagan is another ‘wise head’ who can share responsibility at organising the forward pack.
Another player who has been around several clubs, Dan Fleming now begins life at Bradford Bulls after a short spell at Castleford. Fleming is a powerful forward, arguably in his prime, who can provide the Bulls with vigour coming off the bench, especially in big games.
Levy Nzoungou is another player with a point to prove. Though it has not worked out with the likes of St Helens, Hull FC and Toulouse Olympique, he does have promise, and at Bradford, could well be given the necessary freedom to utilise it.
Perhaps an ‘untested’ youngster, Brad Gallagher is another with a point to prove and the freedom to use it. Not forgetting his enthusiasm too, something you expect from all up-and-coming players.