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Bradford Bulls prepared for ‘big challenge’ at Hull
Francis Cummins believes the Bulls will face a backlash from “desperate” Hull FC tonight – but has urged them to stand tall in the cauldron of the KC Stadium.
The Black and Whites opened their Super League campaign with a 36-6 defeat at Leeds last Friday, having gone in at the break at 6-6.
They also lost marquee signing Gareth Ellis to a foot injury during the pre-match warm-up and look set to be without him for several weeks.
Cummins, whose side kicked off with a highly impressive 40-6 win over Wakefield, accepts that Peter Gentle’s men will be hell-bent on kick-starting their campaign with a win on home soil tonight.
“We’re going to definitely get the backlash from Hull but that’s the challenge for us,” said the Bulls coach.
“We’re not just taking on Hull, we’re taking on some desperate people. We were the desperate people last week, so we need to keep that desperation about us.
“I’ve talked a lot to the players about backlashes and how Hull were perhaps a little embarrassed at Leeds.
“They will want to show what they can do in front of their own fans, so this is a big challenge for us. I want them to go into Hull’s backyard and do the same again.”
Much is expected of Hull this season following a heavy recruitment drive during the winter.
The loss of Ellis aside, Gentle still has plenty of quality at his disposal as his team seek to claim another victory against the Bulls.
Hull did the double over Bradford last season, including a stunning 70-6 success at the Provident Stadium in September, but Gentle watched Cummins’ men take Wakefield to the cleaners last weekend.
He cannot fail to have been impressed and Cummins is hoping to capitalise on the weight of expectancy at the KC Stadium.
The Bulls boss said: “There’s no doubt in professional sport, especially rugby league, that if you can go away and get off to a good start then sometimes the tension can be passed from the crowd onto the pitch.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we take care of ourselves because it could go the other way. They could get off to a great start, the crowd gets behind them and it can help them.
“We know that we need to be really tough at the start of this game because if we’re not, they will embarrass us.”
The Bulls are set to be boosted by a big following tonight after their adult ticket allocation sold out.
Bradford could stick with the side that thumped Wakefield, with Nick Scruton set to be passed fit after being poked in the eye against the Wildcats.
Cummins said: “We may have to shuffle and perhaps change the starting line-up simply because of the way we want to play.”
Meanwhile, Adrian Purtell is set to be registered as a loan player at Dewsbury, subject to clearance from the Border Agency, as he closes in on a return to playing for the first time since last May.
The Australian centre will run the messages for the Bulls tonight as Ian Sibbit is on a course and therefore unavailable.