Bradford Bulls: A job well Don on back rower's big Super League comeback (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bradford Bulls: A job well Don on back rower's big Super League comeback
It was the culmination of over 12 gruelling and at times tortuous months on the sidelines.
With just over 20 minutes of last weekend’s home defeat to St Helens gone, and the Bulls 20-0 down, James Donaldson’s number was finally up.
“Bradford Bulls replacement, number 21 James Donaldson, comes on to replace number 15 Chev Walker,” said the stadium announcer.
If Donaldson looked like a man determined to make up for lost time as he tore into tackles, then it was with good reason.
It was the highly-regarded back-rower’s first Super League action for over a year after the second serious knee injury of his career.
Francis Cummins’ team fell 26-0 behind at the break but showed a vast improvement in the second half when both sides scored ten points apiece.
Donaldson, whose defensive effort helped steady the ship, said: “I thought Franny was going to give me a go towards the end but he called me on just after 20 minutes and I knew what I had to do out there.
“Franny told me I just needed to get some ball and try and slow their rucks down. It got a bit too fast for us and once Saints get on that roll they can kill you.
“We picked up in that second half and knew we had to come out and not even look at the scoreline.
“I need to try and get back in the team so I just had to get out there and do everything I possibly could to stake my claim.”
Donaldson’s return is a welcome boost to Cummins as the Bulls seek a return to winning ways at Huddersfield tomorrow.
The Cumbrian, who enjoyed two stints off the bench at loose forward last weekend and has also played three times for Dewsbury this season, certainly gives the Bulls coach another option in the back row.
Donaldson added: “What we did in the second half against Saints we need to build on at Huddersfield because I think they’re going to come at us in exactly the same way.
“The Giants have got an even bigger pack than St Helens but sometimes if you get stuck into these big lads they don’t want to know.
“I love defending and I love getting stuck into these big boys.
“Trying to boost the team off the bench was my aim last week – to give the lads an impact.
“Hopefully I can get another run-out this weekend.
“I wanted to try and change the game a bit and let Franny know I’m ready to be playing again.
“I think I can push on from here and get in the squad a bit more often and play bigger minutes.”
The Bulls will cross swords with Craig Kopczak tomorrow for the first time since his controversial exit last September.
Kopczak terminated his contract of employment with the Bulls shortly before the final-round trip to Catalan Dragons but failed to inform his team-mates of his decision.
Donaldson said: “It wasn’t right what he did. You can’t just not turn up for a plane to Perpignan and let your team-mates down, especially when he never said a word.
“But he’s done what he obviously wanted to do and he’s a great player, Koppy. He’s a loss to us and we’ve got to go up against him this week and try and do our best job on him and Huddersfield.”