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Francis Cummins tips Bradford Bulls loanee Matty Blythe for England call
Francis Cummins has hailed Matty Blythe as the Bulls’ best player so far this season and believes the in-form centre can push for an international call-up.
Blythe has made a highly impressive impact since joining the club on a season-long loan from Warrington.
The 24-year-old has started all five games at right centre and scored in four of them, leading Cummins to single him out for special praise.
The Bulls coach sees no reason why Blythe cannot catch the eye of England boss Steve McNamara with the World Cup looming later this year.
Blythe will line up for the Bulls again at Widnes tonight and Cummins said: “I think Matty’s probably been our best player so far this year.
“He has scored some tries, which is a by-product of what other people such as Danny Addy have been doing.
“The halves have been very good for Matty but it’s not really his tries; it’s more his work-rate and the strong runs that he makes in yardage.
“He’s willing to work really hard for the side and those are the sort of players that you want in your team.
“You want the quality to finish things off and score tries, which Matty is doing, but if they’re willing to muck in and do the hard yards, that makes him more of a prospect for international rugby league.
“It’s still early days but hopefully Matty can continue in the same vein.”
McNamara outlined to the group that their performances will be monitored closely this season with the World Cup at the end of the year.
“Elliott Whitehead is a very good back-rower and he’s got to take the next step, which he’s starting to do,” said Cummins.
“He’s showing up very well in our game scores and the stuff he’s doing off the ball as well as on the ball.
“Galey is currently out injured but has done well with the Knights previously and has something to aim for when he’s back playing again.
“John possibly could push into that elite squad before the end of the year but it all depends on what these guys produce during the season.
“As a squad here at Bradford Bulls, we’re still very young and our average age is 24.”
Bateman is poised to play the full 80 minutes for the Bulls’ Academy side at Widnes tonight as he closes in on a first-team return, possibly at home to Hull KR next weekend.
But Cummins will check on the fitness of a number of his squad ahead of the first-team clash with the Vikings.
Matt Diskin is set to be passed fit after missing the Huddersfield win with a dead leg, while Manase Manuokafoa should shake off a shoulder knock sustained against the Giants.
But Tom Olbison and Jamie Foster are nursing knocks and could miss out, forcing Cummins into another reshuffle of his small squad.
The Bulls coach said: “We’re still in good shape and the likes of John Bateman, Luke Gale, Ben Evans and Adrian Purtell are slowly coming back into the mix. Then we will start to look like a real squad.”
Widnes, meanwhile, are coming into the game on the back of a rousing win over Hull FC last weekend and Cummins is wary of the threat they pose on their artificial i-pitch, which the Bulls won on convincingly last season.
He said: “Widnes showed some real attacking flair last week and they are a big threat to us – one because of the short turnaround but also the fact that they put 30 points past a team as good as Hull.
“As for the surface, I’d rather have a good grass pitch any day but we only have to play on it once a year and we will just get on with it.”