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First Bradford Bulls try a moment to savour for Adam O’Brien
Of the seven tries scored by the Bulls in Sunday’s thumping win at Huddersfield, Adam O’Brien’s was perhaps the most rapturously received.
Within seconds of replacing Heath L’Estrange in the 55th minute, the 19-year-old hooker had scooted over from acting half.
He was immediately mobbed by team-mates amid raucous scenes.
It said much for the significance of the try; it was O’Brien’s first touch of the game, marked his maiden Super League touchdown and confirmed that Huddersfield were being taken to the cleaners.
Not that L’Estrange, a pivotal figure in the Bulls’ earlier dominance, knew much about it.
“I ran on the field and hadn’t even fastened my scrum cap properly when there was a play-the-ball and I dummied over the line to score,” said O’Brien.
“Heath and I were laughing about it afterwards because he was still walking off the pitch when I scored.
“Everyone started cheering and Heath was like ‘what’s happening?’
“Someone said ‘Adam’s just scored’ and he went mad because he had missed my first Super League try. It happened that quickly.
“My mum and dad were really proud and my mates were all texting me afterwards as well. I was buzzing really.”
O’Brien had been forced to wait patiently for his first Super League appearance of the season due to joint-captains L’Estrange and Matt Diskin being firmly established as Francis Cummins’ first-choice hookers.
He had spent the previous four weeks playing for Dewsbury in the Championship before a dead leg ruled Diskin out of the Huddersfield clash, affording O’Brien his chance.
He said: “I just wanted to do my job and make a mark. Franny said ‘get on there and do your stuff’, so I had the opportunity to score and went for it.
I was delighted to get a try under my belt after Heath had set a great platform.
“I’ve tried getting a bit of weight on this season because it always helps when you’re in the middle. I’ve had to do that to help me back myself.”
O’Brien is highly regarded by all at Bradford and was awarded a long-term contract last year.
Unlike John Bateman, he is ineligible to play for the under-19s and, after the under-20s competition was scrapped, was happy to play for Dewsbury.
The former Siddal amateur scored two tries on his Rams debut in their opening-day win at Doncaster.
“People talk about the difference between Championship and Super League but it’s been good for my game and is certainly better than me sitting in the Coral Stand waiting to play,” reasoned O’Brien.
“All I can do is keep training my hardest and stay on Franny’s radar. He talks to me every week and says ‘if Heath and Diskin are fit, you’re probably going to Dewsbury’.
“I’ve been biding my time but I’ve certainly not wasted it because I’ve really enjoyed my rugby at Dewsbury.
“It’s very physical in the Championship and is definitely a man’s game. People are coming home from work with a bit of anger in them and wanting to smash someone.
“But it’s getting me playing regularly because I’ve only played a few first-team games for the Bulls.
“Playing at Dewsbury is helping me. I’ve been coming off the bench and trying to make an impact – just like I did for Bradford at Huddersfield.”
Diskin is expected to be passed fit for tomorrow’s trip to Widnes, which could see O’Brien miss out and instead play for Glenn Morrison’s men at Barrow on Sunday.
It does not bother him.
“If Disko’s fit then I might have to play for Dewsbury at Barrow, which is a bit of a trek up there!” smiled O’Brien.
“But it’s good either way because it keeps my minutes up and as long as I’m enjoying my rugby then I’m happy.
“Glenn Morro has given me a chance when he could have turned around and said ‘I’ve got my two hookers, I don’t want you, Adam’.
“I’m chuffed to bits and if I don’t get another chance in Super League then I’ll play at Dewsbury all year if I have to.
“I’m enjoying it and we’ve had a few wins, so I’ve got no complaints.”
Although he is very much seen as part of the Bulls’ future, the prospect of O’Brien playing on loan at a rival Super League club has been mooted.
He said: “There are rumours and people are talking about other Super League clubs being interested and if that happens, then so be it.
“If an opportunity comes up elsewhere, I’ll take my chance.
“I’m certainly not in a bad place because I’m only 19 and I’m on a long-term contract here, so it’s all good either way.”