DAN Fleming will join the Bulls next season having learned from some of the best props in the business.
The 22-year-old Castleford player grew up watching Andy Lynch and is now team-mates with the former Bradford captain.
He has also taken tips from Craig Huby, who has rivalled Lynch as one of the outstanding front-rowers in Super League this year, and Australian Grant Millington.
Daryl Powell has worked wonders at Wheldon Road as the Tigers have reached their first Challenge Cup final since 1992 and emerged as serious Grand Final contenders.
While Fleming is currently sidelined as he recovers from minor back surgery, he remains very much involved with their squad.
“It has certainly been a massively beneficial experience to be a part of it,” said the Wales prop, who played in Castleford’s win at Odsal in the opening round of the season.
“Castleford gave me my chance to play in Super League so I really appreciate what they have given me.
“To go to Wembley for the Challenge Cup final next weekend, even though I’m not playing, would be huge. Hopefully I can be out on the pitch in a big final myself one day.”
Fleming joined Castleford from his hometown club Halifax ahead of the 2011 campaign and has also spent time on dual registration at Batley and York in the past two seasons.
Playing and training with men such as Lynch, Huby and Millington at Castleford has aided his development.
Fleming explained: “Lynchy has to be up there for the Man of Steel because he’s doing 80 minutes some weeks. He just keeps going and doesn’t seem to burn out.
“Chubbs (Huby) has been outstanding too and deserved to be picked for England, so all the advice they give you definitely helps.
“When I was growing up, I watched Lynchy for Bradford and it’s weird playing with him now.
“Just by him passing on little bits of his experience, it will hold me in good stead for the future.
“Him, Chubbs and Grant Millington just give you tips about going into the tackle side on as opposed to from the front.
“Daryl introduced a mentoring scheme at Cas and Millington was my mentor, so I’ve done a lot of video with him and asked his opinions.
“It has really helped me and you can’t put a price on that sort of advice.
“In terms of my own game, I just like running it in to be honest – I enjoy the bang and clatter of it!
“If I can get an offload away then I will try it but I’m not a risk-taker.”
Playing under John Kear at Batley and York boss Gary Thornton, who was Fleming’s Under-20s coach at Castleford, has similarly helped.
“I spent a lot of time at Batley last year and played under a great coach in John Kear,” he said.
“I really appreciate the chance Batley gave me and it was the same this year at York.
“Gary Thornton was my under-20s coach and it was good to be underneath him again.
“He gave me a lot of game time and that benefited me massively.”
Fleming made his first-team debut with the Tigers last season, racking up 11 Super League appearances and earning a place in Wales’ World Cup squad.
As he recovers from his back operation, Fleming should be in contention to feature for Castleford in the play-offs.
His move to Odsal next season will see him return to the club where he completed his scholarship before he was released.
“I was at Bradford for three years from the age of 13 to 16,” remembered Fleming.
“Obviously it was disappointing at the time to be let go but I got the chance to sign for Halifax, so I was really pleased with that because they’re my hometown team.
“Stuart Fielden was the main player I looked up to as a kid, being a Bradford player and from Halifax, and Jamie Peacock too.
“To sign for Bradford now is great and I’m really happy.
“I was out of contract at Cas at the end of this year and obviously I was looking for some security.
“Daryl wasn’t sure whether he could offer me a deal with me being out injured at the minute but coming to Bradford is a massive opportunity.
“I’ve signed a two-year deal, so hopefully the second season will be in Super League.
“It’s looking really positive and if we can keep the main core of the squad together then we’ll have a good chance next year.”
Fleming was introduced to around a thousand supporters at the recent relaunch of the Bulls lottery at Cedar Court.
He said: “I’m really chuffed with the two years, not just because of the security but because of the size of the club.
“I’m used to big support at Cas but just look how many people were at Cedar Court.
“Hopefully it’s a new start for the club and we can get back into Super League. I'm really looking forward to the challenge.”