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Ex-Bradford Bulls star Adrian Purtell takes new coaching role after battling cancer

Former Bradford Bulls star Adrian Purtell seems to have been through it all in his life.

Purtell, who played five seasons at Odsal between 2013 and 2017, has now taken the reins at the Eden Tigers who are a prestigious local side in Australia.

Eden is a traditional rugby league town and have played in competition since 1946, most recently in the Group 16 competition where their last title came in 2016.

37-year-old Purtell registered 38 tries in 88 appearances for Bradford, before moving to the London Broncos for the 2017 season where he added a further ten appearances to his name.

The rangy centre began his career at the Canberra Raiders in 2009 and had a spell at the Penrith Panthers with over 100 appearances between both clubs.

In fact, it was perhaps a minor miracle that Purtell had a rugby league career past 2012 after suffering a heart attack on the way home from a fixture at that year’s Magic Weekend.

In an incredible turn of events, the centre returned t the field less than a year after the incident and stayed with the Bulls as they endured relegation at the end of 2014.

But, whilst playing bush rugby league in 2021, Purtell revealed something even more sinister.

“I felt a lump in my throat in March and about six weeks later, after all sorts of tests, it was diagnosed as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – an aggressive cancer that attacks the body’s vital organs,” he told Wide World of Sports back in August.

“It was pretty scary but the one good thing was that it was only stage two and hadn’t spread so that was a small victory.

“I underwent six lots of chemotherapy and they really knocked me around for 10 days or so each time – it’s not something I enjoyed.

“But I still love the footy and saw it as a welcome distraction from all my worries.

“I couldn’t train much before games because I felt too crook and that made it tough.

“I sat on the bench and planned to play only 20 minutes or so. But I couldn’t help myself – most weeks I played around 60.

“I’m finished with the chemo now but have a four-week radiation cycle ahead of me – hopefully that will be the end of it.”

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