Former Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield Giants and Castleford Tigers prop Daniel Smith has joined Bradford Bulls for next year after his release from Featherstone Rovers.
Smith had linked up with Featherstone Rovers midway through the 2023 season with Rovers looking to push for promotion, however following their defeat to London in the play-off semi-finals that dream of Super League collapsed.
Since then Featherstone have seen a huge turnover of players, releasing 17 in total, with Smith being one of those. He’s not been without a club for long though as fellow Championship side Bradford Bulls have recruited the former Tiger for the 2024 season.
It’s a new era at Bradford with Eamon O’Carroll taking charge of the side from the 2024 season onwards, a strong squad being built to allow the Bulls to improve on their impressive third placed finish in 2023.
Bradford confirmed the signing via their website and social media, releasing the following statement: “Bradford Bulls are delighted to announce the signing of experienced forward Daniel Smith on a two-year deal!
“Smith, 30, is a graduate of the Leeds Rhinos Academy system and has since enjoyed spells in Super League with Wakefield Trinity, Huddersfield Giants and Castleford Tigers most recently.
“The Pontefract-born forward this year made a mid-season move to Featherstone Rovers, where he made 18 appearances, scoring twice to help James Ford’s side win the League Leaders’ Shield.”
Smith explained: “I am delighted to get the deal across the line, the club contacted me last week and it has all happened really quick, so I am really happy and excited to get stuck into training and try to get Bradford back into Super League,” said Smith.
“When I spoke to Freddy [Eamon O’Carroll] and Jason [Hirst], they sold the club really well with the things they want to put in place to succeed next year.
“The playing squad is very good and I thought they were the best team I played against last season and with the history of the club, it is one of the biggest clubs in England so I am really happy to be a part of it and I can’t wait.
“I know a few of the lads and have played against them quite a bit, I played Amateur Rugby with Ben Blackmore, Tom Holmes and Joe Arundel live around the corner so I am excited to be back playing with them.
“I am 30 now, having played in Super League for 10 years I have experience so hopefully I can help the younger lads and push the standards to get the best out of everyone.”
Bradford Bulls’ Head Coach Eamon O’Carroll believes Smith’s qualities will compliment the existing players in his ranks – as he becomes the 27th member of his 2024 roster.
“We have been looking to recruit and bring in quality in this position for some time, but it’s important we brought the right person in.
“Once we heard of Dan’s availability, we worked quickly to ensure we got this over the line as we believe Dan will be the perfect fit for us and will compliment the quality we have in our pack.
“Dan is an intelligent footballer who has the ability to disrupt opposition’s defensive lines with his late footwork and his ability to offload. He also has great pass selection, which will certainly add to how we want to play this year. I really feel we have great balance in our pack now.
“I’m really happy with how our squad is shaping up, having retained a number of key individuals and bringing in quality with Sam, Mitch, Will and now Dan, and we are still hopeful of adding to our roster before the start of pre-season.”
It’s also confirmed by the Bulls that the deal is for two years with Smith signing on for both the 2024 and 2025 season, two crucial seasons in Bulls history as they edge closer to promotion in this new IMG era.
Currently Bradford rank 14th on the preliminary gradings yet they’re within a point of plenty of the teams immediately above them, meaning that a return to Super League is genuinely within touching distance. Signings like that of Smith will mean that the team continue to have on-field success and thereby boost their chances of a return to rugby league’s top table.
It’s of course the off-field issues, in particular their stadium that has caused major issues, with the club having appealed last week for major funding to secure a 21st century stadium and one that can help guide them back to Super League.
Part of that statement read: “That grading should leave no one in any doubt that the single biggest impediment to getting our club back to the Super League is the absence of an appropriate 21st century facility.
“Our relatively strong and strengthening scores in the other 4 Grading Pillars clearly demonstrate the progress the club has and continues to make in recent times.”