An ultimate 13 of rugby league players born in Bradford including Super League, NRL stars

Louis Chapman Coombe
John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead, Elliot Minchella

From left to right: John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead & Elliot Minchella all star in our Bradford-born ultimate 13

Throughout the summer at Love Rugby League, we’re going to be taking a geographical tour of some of rugby league’s most famous towns and cities and compiling some dream line-ups comprising of active players.

Some places will unsurprisingly throw out star-studded sides with some of the best players in the world included. But some may surprise you about the quality of stars the area has produced.

So far in this feature series, we’ve taken a look at Halifax, Widnes, Warrington, Wigan, Huddersfield and Oldham.

Next up: Bradford. The West Yorkshire city is a hotbed for rugby league and is home to two clubs within the professional tiers -Bradford Bulls & Keighley Cougars. The city has seen plenty of rugby league success in the past, but it has also produced some brilliant talent along the way too.

Here’s our ultimate 13 of current players born or raised in Bradford…

1. Will Pryce

Will Pryce Newcastle Knights Alamy
Will Pryce pictured during the warm-up before a Newcastle Knights NRL game in 2024

Kicking things off is versatile Newcastle Knights back Pryce. The former Huddersfield Giants ace swapped life in West Yorkshire for Australia at the end of the 2023 season and has taken well to life in the New South Wales Cup.

Pryce is still yet to make his NRL debut, but has featured in the wider matchday squad on several occasions. He made his Giants debut in 2021 and went onto make 46 appearances before heading Down Under.

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2. Lee Kershaw

Slotting into the number 2 shirt is London Broncos flier Kershaw. The winger came through Wakefield Trinity’s academy system and made his debut for the Belle Vue outfit in 2019.

He went onto make 50 appearances for Trinity during his four-year spell, making the switch to newly-promoted London in the off-season just gone following Wakefield’s relegation. The 25-year-old has five tries in 15 appearances for the Broncos to date.

3. Cam Scott

Cam Scott
Cam Scott in action for Hull FC in 2024

Hull FC man Scott played his junior rugby at Wyke ARLFC, and prior to joining Hull FC’s academy spent time in Bradford’s academy.

He made his Super League debut for the Airlie Birds in 2018, and has now made 73 appearances in the Black and White, also featuring on loan for Doncaster, Dewsbury Rams, York & Leigh (then Centurions).

4. Ben Hellewell

22-time Scotland international Hellewell is now 32. He came through Bradford’s academy system before making the move to Warrington in 2012, but would depart the Wolves without making a senior appearance having enjoyed loans with both York & Barrow Raiders.

The utility, now in Super League with Salford Red Devils, has donned the shirts of eight clubs in total – joining Featherstone Rovers from Warrington, and then featuring for Dewsbury, London Broncos, Sheffield Eagles & Leigh (then Centurions) prior to arriving at Salford in 2023. He’s approaching the milestone of 250 club career appearances.

5. Brandon Pickersgill

Brandon Pickersgill
Brandon Pickersgill in action for Featherstone Rovers in 2022

One of just two players in this 13 still playing within the BD postcode, Keighley Cougars ace Pickersgill made his senior bow for London Skolars in March 2017 before eventually breaking through into Bradford’s first team the following month. 33 tries in 76 appearances for the Bulls followed before he joined Featherstone in 2022.

After struggling to make his mark at Post Office Road, he made the move to Halifax midway through 2023 and was part of the Panthers squad which won the 1895 Cup at Wembley. But come the end of the campaign, he moved on again, returning to the BD postcode with League 1 outfit Keighley. The 27-year-old has seven tries in 13 appearances to date this year for the Cougars.

6. Jake Trueman

Joining fellow Airlie Bird Cam Scott in our backline, Trueman is another product of Bradford’s academy having come through the youth ranks at Odsal to make a senior debut in May 2016. But after that sole appearance for the Bulls, against Swinton Lions, he was snapped up by Super League outfit Castleford Tigers.

Part of the Tigers squad which won the League Leaders’ Shield in 2017, Trueman was named the Super League Young Player of the Year in 2018. Come 2021, he would feature in the Challenge Cup final, beaten by St Helens at Wembley. The 25-year-old played over 100 games for the Fords in total before linking up with Hull FC last year.

7. Rowan Milnes

Rowan Milnes Castleford Tigers Alamy
Rowan Milnes dons his Player of the Match medal following a Castleford Tigers victory in 2024

From a former Tigers half-back to the man currently occupying that position at the Jungle. Milnes rose through the academy ranks at Bradford to make his first-team debut for the Bulls in May 2018. The playmaker made 14 appearances across his two seasons at Odsal, before joining Hull KR in 2020, one of five players to make that move.

The Robins loaned him back to the Bulls for the first few months of that 2020 season before the COVID-19 Pandemic saw the Championship curtailed, and with other loans at Dewsbury & Wakefield in-between, Milnes featured 49 times for the Craven Park outfit – including an appearance at Wembley in last year’s Challenge Cup final defeat – before joining Cas this term.

8. Matty Storton

Following the theme of former clubs, current Hull KR forward Storton – who also came through Bradford’s academy – is our first prop. He made his senior debut for the Bulls in April 2017, and would amass 29 appearances before he departed Odsal for KR in 2020.

The 25-year-old – who is expected to join Wakefield come the end of this season – has notched 92 appearances for the Robins to date, surpassing the milestone of 100 career appearances last year. Like Milnes, he too appeared in KR’s 2023 Challenge Cup final defeat against Leigh at Wembley, beaten in Golden Point extra time by Lachlan Lam’s drop goal.

9. Thomas Doyle

Thomas Doyle
Thomas Doyle celebrates his try for Wakefield Trinity in their 1895 Cup final triumph against Sheffield Eagles at Wembley

This season is the first time that Doyle has plied his trade outside of the BD postcode, joining Championship high-flyers Wakefield and becoming a mainstay in Daryl Powell’s side, scoring a try under the Wembley arch earlier this month as they lifted the 1895 Cup with victory in the competition’s final against Sheffield.

Having spent time with Milford ARLFC & Stanningley ARLFC as a youngster, he too came through the academy setup at Odsal, making a senior debut for Bradford in April 2019. Eventually departing at the end of the 2022 campaign, the hooker spent 2023 with Keighley before linking up with Trinity ahead of this year. Doyle is four appearances off the milestone of 100 in his career.

10. Ebon Scurr

24-year-old Scurr is the only player in this 13 still with Bradford. Having made his debut for the Bulls in June 2019, and eventually become a regular feature at senior level in 2021, he is yet to don any other team’s shirt.

The forward has scored 10 tries in 72 appearances for the Odsal outfit to date, committing his future to the club as he penned a two-year deal in 2023 despite interest from Super League clubs.

11. John Bateman

John Bateman
John Bateman applauds the Wests Tigers supporters after a game in 2024

30-year-old Wests Tigers ace Bateman rose through the ranks at hometown club Bradford and made his senior debut for the Bulls in April 2011, then still 17! He stayed at Odsal until the end of the 2013 season before joining Wigan, where he would establish himself as one of the best in his position in Super League.

Named the Warriors’ Player of the Year three times, two-time Super League champion Bateman’s first stint with Wigan lasted five seasons, before the NRL and Canberra Raiders came calling. The 26-time England international – who also has four caps for Great Britain – spent two seasons Down Under before returning to Wigan in 2021, and won the Challenge Cup the following year.

But come 2023, he returned to Australia oncemore with Wests, and earlier this year made his 300th career appearance. One of Bradford’s finest products, probably just behind Zayn Malik.

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12. Elliott Whitehead

Former Canberra team-mate Whitehead partners Bateman in the back-row. The 34-year-old also came through the youth ranks at Odsal and made his senior bow for Bradford in June 2009. He made 109 appearances for the Bulls in total before joining then-fellow Super League outfit Catalans Dragons midway through the 2013 season.

The powerhouse forward spent circa two-and-a-half years in Perpignan before making the jump into the NRL with Canberra in 2016. Eight years and almost 200 appearances for the Raiders later, he has established himself as one of the best Englishmen to play Down Under.

A 27-time England international with four other caps for Great Britain, Whitehead retired from international duty last year following the autumn test series against Tonga. His time in the NRL is set to come to an end once this season concludes, and though it had appeared he’d hang up his boots, it would appear a return to Super League could well be on the cards.

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13. Elliot Minchella

Elliot Minchella
Elliot Minchella in action for Hull KR in 2024

Rounding off our Bradfordian team is Hull KR skipper Minchella, who actually came through the ranks with Leeds Rhinos and made his senior debut for the Headingley outfit in August 2013. His time with the Rhinos ended with just six appearances to his name following a successful loan spell in the Championship with London in 2015.

After a couple of years with Sheffield, Minchella was then snapped up by hometown club Bradford, and he scored 21 tries in 56 appearances during his time at Odsal. Accordingly, he’d made 139 senior appearances before being signed by KR in 2020.

Four-and-a-half seasons on, he’s now the heartbeat of Willie Peters’ side, and was named club captain ahead of this season following the retirement of Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Featuring at Wembley in the Challenge Cup final defeat last year, the 28-year-old has made 89 appearances for the Robins to date, also making a single appearance on dual-registration for Dewsbury in 2022.

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