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Leon Pryce: Bradford Bulls fans don't deserve the Championship
For Leon Pryce, Bradford-born and bred, any match against the Bulls is an occasion to increase the heartbeat.
That his hometown club are fighting desperately for their Super League lives merely adds further intrigue to tomorrow’s clash in Perpignan.
Catalan want the points to maintain their play-off push; Bradford need victory to reignite a campaign that threatens to end in disaster.
For Pryce, who progressed through the ranks at Odsal and played his part in the side that reached five successive Grand Finals, there is great sadness at the club’s dramatic fall from grace.
“It would be very demoralising to see the Bulls relegated because we put so much hard work into making the club what it was,” said Pryce.
“Not just us as players but a lot of people behind the scenes worked to get us into a position where we could win Super League titles and World Club Challenges.
“The 2005 Grand Final was a highlight because I got man-of-the-match. It was my last game for the Bulls and was against our old enemy in Leeds.
“Over a period of time we were the most successful team in Super League, so to see that all vanish is really disappointing.
“If you went through the whole of Super League and listed all the players who came through at Bradford and have left, you would not be far off a full international team.”
Pryce appreciates what the Bulls mean to the people of Bradford – and he feels they deserve better.
The 32-year-old stand-off added: “As a Bradford lad, I know the community.
“It’s a working-class city where people want that bit of enjoyment at the weekend, like going to watch Bradford City and Bradford Bulls in Super League.
“They deserve better than the Bulls being in the Championship because too many people have worked hard for the club over the past ten to 15 years for it to be in that position.
“Being a Bradford lad and a Bradford supporter, I want to see the Bulls in Super League.
“It’s going to be tough now, obviously, with the six points having been deducted and the players that they lost at the start of the season.
“It’s been hard on the lads and I feel for them and for the fans because it’s not where we belong.”
Pryce believes there is hope yet for the Bulls but is not prepared to do them any favours this weekend.
He explained: “There is always pressure to win every game, especially when we’re at home, but we know Bradford are dangerous because they beat us last month in the Challenge Cup.
“They know that they can beat us, so we have to be a lot more wary of them this time around and we need to perform much better.
“Luke Gale is their main player and I’ve known Disko (Matt Diskin) for a long time as we played together as juniors.”
Pryce’s three-year deal with the Dragons expires at the end of this season and he could be set for a return to an English-based Super League club.
He said: “It’s been great to experience a different culture and to live in a different country with my family.
“It’s been different and has been tough at times, but I’ve enjoyed it.
“I’ll probably have more of an idea what I’m doing in the next month.
“I’d like to play on in Super League for as long as my body will let me. At the moment it’s feeling pretty good.”
The Bulls will tomorrow cross swords with another Bradford-born talent in Elliott Whitehead, who has scored 11 tries in just 10 Super League games this season.
Pryce added: “Elliott’s having a good season and he can’t be far off getting in the England side. He should definitely be in the squad.
“It’s always nice to score tries but he does all the hard work too. He does a bit of everything and is playing really well for us.”
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