Bradford go into the 2012 season after three terrible seasons by their standards. Consecutive 10th place finishes are unacceptable for Bull-mania supporters who have previously seen their side win four Super League titles.
The Bulls missed out on the play offs for the first time in Super League history in 2009, and have failed to get back into the dizzy heights of play off rugby. Hull KR ended the Bulls’ hopes of ending that curse last season with a dominant 34-8 win at, Rovers’ first win at Odsal since 1991. But that match showed wht was lacking with Mick Potter’s side.
With the Bulls winning 8-6 at half time, Bradford’s inconsistency let them down once again but this time Potter hopes several key signings will begin to eliminate the causes for past failures.
Utility Keith Lulia adds international experience as a member of the 2009 Cook Islands side that made the Pacific Cup final. He predominantly plays in three quarters and comes in as a replacement for the outgoing Patrick Ah Van. Despite no international experience, Adrian Purtell is the most experienced of Mick Potter’s new signings having made consistent appearances for Canberra and Penrith in the NRL. Meanwhile the big unit Manase Manuokafoa comes into the Bradford pack after playing for South Sydney, North Queensland and Parramatta. He also played for Tonga in the 2008 World Cup in which he made two appearances.
Key-man: Heath L’Estrange.
The former Manly Sea Eagles hooker joined the club ahead of the 2010 season as a direct replacement for the late Terry Newton, who had left to join Wakefield. L’Estrange made his impact on Super League performing consistently for the Bulls in his first season at Odsal. However L’Estrange’s 2011 season was dealt a blow when he was ruled out for the season after injuring his knee in a thrilling game against St Helens. He is expected to make a full recovery and continue to put opposition defences on the back foot from dummy half.
One-to-watch: Adrian Purtell
The former Canberra Raider joins Bradford from Penrith. After being named as Rookie of the Year at Canberra in 2006, a non-rugby related illness kept Purtell out of action for half of the following season. However he made a full recovery and regained his centres spot in the Canberra side. Purtell was offered a release from Canberra as he failed to regain his centre position and signed for Penrith where he stayed for two seasons.
Prediction: Another season with high expectation but poor results, 10th.
Super League Grand Final Odds: 33/1 (8th favourites)
League Leader Odds: 40/1 (8th)
Challenge Cup Odds: 40/1 (8th)
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Squad: Brett Kearney, Adrian Purtell, Keith Lulia, Chev Walker, Elliot Kear, Ben Jeffries, Luke Gale, Nick Scruton, Heath L’Estrange, Craig Kopczak, Olivier Elima, Elliott Whitehead, Jamie Langley, Matt Diskin, Bryn Hargreaves, Manase Manuokafoa, Ian Sibbit, Shaun Ainscough, Tom Olbison, James Donaldson, Tom Burgess, Jarrod Sammut, Danny Addy, Jason Crookes, Adam O’Brien, John Bateman, Kyle Briggs, Paul Sykes, Michael Platt.