As Super League’s newest head coach, Francis Cummins knows the pressure starts now – and not just on the pitch.
The former Leeds winger and assistant coach, who has taken charge at Odsal after two years as Mick Potter’s understudy, has set his sights on carrying Bradford to this year’s Super League play-offs.
But more than that, he is aiming to make a lasting impact on the lives of each of the 27 men that make up the Bulls’ 2013 squad.
Cummins told Love Rugby League: “I look upon coaching more as teaching. You want to make them better players and better people. I truly believe I can do that with this group, and that’s why I’ve put myself in this position.
“You’ve got to have confidence in your ability. Sometimes the results might not go your way, but in the long term I know the path this club needs to take because I’ve seen it at Leeds and how long it took them, and also how they improved as people. I’ve got to keep that in mind, that I’ve experienced it and seen it.”
He added: “Part of my upbringing as a coach is that it’s important we do it the right way. We’ve got to keep true to the core ethics of our sport. They’re something we need to be proud of and we need to shout that we’re not about kicking ball-boys or trying to injure players. You play the game hard and tough, but there’s more to our sport than that.
“What I’ve always found is that if rugby league players are true to the core ethics of the sport, it will benefit them when they finish playing. Maybe, right now, we’ve got the first rugby league player who can retire when he finishes playing and he won’t have to do another day’s work, but I’m not sure. I don’t think we have yet.
“These players are going to earn some good money for 10 years, but then they’ve got to go find a job and do something else. If you create a monster, they’re not going to get employed. It’s important that whatever they do in this sport, they’re able to move on and work for someone. More than that, they’ll become fathers and uncles, and it’s important they do that in the right way.”
After the horrors of 2012, Cummins starts at a club full of momentum and is determined to rebuild Odsal into the fortress it once was.
“(Last year) is not forgotten, but the club’s in a good place now. You need everyone working in the right direction and I can’t wait for the season to start.
“The nature of the sport is that there are car crashes everywhere and bones get broken, but hopefully we can steer clear of that and stick together.
“If you look at the top and bottom teams last year, the difference was the depth of the squads. Leeds, Warrington or Wigan can lose a couple of players and replace them with someone else. We probably can’t do that too much, but I truly believe the squad is capable of making the top eight.”