A bumper crowd is expected for Bradford’s League One opener at York on Sunday – and it’s likely to be a regular theme in 2018.
John Kear’s Bulls are the scalp that everyone wants, much like Toronto Wolfpack were last season, with the former Sheffield and Wakefield boss tasked with transforming the fortunes of the Odsal club after a few turbulent years.
Kear said: “We’re expecting it to be tough. I’ve already spoken extensively with Brian Noble, who was in a very similar position with Toronto last year and he’s given us some good tip offs.
“I’m big friends with (Keighley coach) Craig Lingard, and he’s told me about the challenges playing down at Hemel and places like Coventry and West Wales.
“We’ve planned for 26 cup finals, but the good news is that 13 of those cup finals are at Odsal and the other 13 will be a different challenge but it’s something we’re really looking forward to.
“The opposition will embrace us simply because we’ll be taking so many fans.
“We’ve sold 2000 plus season tickets and that’s a lot more than a lot of Championship clubs and that shows how big this club is and what the potential this club’s got.
“We know the opposition is going to make our game the big game, the cup final and we’re happy to play 26 cup finals.”
After seemingly being handed a fresh start and a lifeline following liquidation 12 months ago, the new Bradford slumped to relegation from the Championship despite a strong start that looked like wiping out their points deduction early on.
It leaves them in the third tier of rugby league, little more than a decade after the last of their four Super League Grand Final wins.
They are the overwhelming favourites to take the League One title this season, but it’s the overall project that was attractive to Kear.
He added: “I love coaching and when a club like Bradford were after me, I was very flattered and couldn’t wait to accept the challenge.
“It’s something I’ve never done before and it’s a great challenge to restore the most iconic name outside of Super League back to where they belong in the next few years.”
Kear has recruited strongly, bringing in Elliott Minchella and Matt Garside from Sheffield and London respectively, while Steve Crossley returns to the club from Toronto.
Batley winger Alex Brown is reunited with his former coach and ex-Leigh full-back Gregg McNally is also a coup.
With the likes of Lee Smith, Ashley Gibson and Dane Chisholm also retained, it’s looking ominous for Bradford’s League One rivals.
They kick-off their season with a trip to York at Bootham Crescent on Sunday – the scene of Toronto’s only league defeat of 2017.