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Teenage pair Jordan Baldwinson and Mason Tonks can bolster Bradford Bulls
Bulls coach Francis Cummins is confident his squad is edging closer to full strength as he hailed the acquisition of Jordan Baldwinson and Mason Tonks.
The 19-year-old forwards began training with the Bulls yesterday and could make their debuts in Saturday’s trip to Catalan Dragons.
But Cummins’ options up front are set to increase this weekend as Antonio Kaufusi is available again while Manase Manuokafoa and James Donaldson hope to return after injury.
With Matty Blythe, Dale Ferguson and Jamal Fakir also making steady progress in their rehab, the Bulls could go into next week’s pivotal home clash with Wakefield missing only long-term absentee Brett Kearney.
Asked about the prospect of Baldwinson and Tonks being involved in Perpignan, Cummins said: “It will depend on selection and who we’ve got available but the good thing is that players are now coming back.
“We’ve definitely got Kaufusi available, Nas should return and maybe Donno as well, so we’re starting to look like a rugby league team rather than just a bunch of lads who are doing their best for each other.
“We’ve had a tough few weeks but it seems to be getting better.
“We didn’t have much of a pack when we played Catalan last month yet we ran them around.
“It will be a lot easier facing them with four props rather than one or two.
“There is a chance that Ferguson, Blythe and Fakir could be available for the Wakefield game – and then we’ve got some headaches.
“We knew this was going to be tough but there is a good feeling that there are more people in training now.”
Cummins has kept in touch with Wigan prop Greg Burke since he sustained a dislocated shoulder during his only appearance for the Bulls at Hull in March.
Fit-again Burke is in Wigan’s 19-man squad for tomorrow’s match at Salford and Cummins admits he would like to possibly bring the player back to Bradford on loan.
He said: “I’ve not spoke to Shaun Wane or Kris Radlinksi about it. I would hope it might be a possibility but we will probably wait for Greg to get a couple of games under his belt first.”
Baldwinson and Tonks, meanwhile, said they have settled at Bradford straight after arriving from New Zealand Warriors.
They will both rejoin Leeds on three-year deals at the end of the season and Cummins said: “To move away from their parents and families was quite brave and you can’t buy the experience they have had in New Zealand.”
Baldwinson, a prop who can also play in the back row, said: “Today’s training session was really good and we’ve been accepted straight away, which is a really good sign.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be playing this weekend but I’m really keen to make a name for myself in Super League.
“There is no greater opportunity than coming here to the Bulls, who are short of forwards, to try and keep them up.
“It would be great to get into the team and make a difference.”
Tonks, an attacking second-rower who can also play loose forward and in the centres, added: “We had our first training session this morning and it went really well.
“I’m 100 per cent ready and I just can’t wait to put the Bulls jersey on.
“Jordan and I have got so much enthusiasm and are ready to play our part to try and keep the Bulls in Super League.
“They’re a great club and they’re going through a rough patch, so coming here is a great opportunity to help and show what I can do.”
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