Purtell hopes for ‘business as usual’ on Bradford Bulls comeback (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Adrian Purtell hopes for ‘business as usual’ on Bradford Bulls comeback
Adrian Purtell admits his emotions will be running high ahead of his long-awaited comeback tomorrow – but says he could not be any better prepared for it.
The Bulls centre has been included in Francis Cummins’ injury-hit 19-man squad for the visit of Hull KR and is poised to feature off the bench.
It will be Purtell’s first competitive action since he played the full 80 minutes of the Magic Weekend defeat to Leeds on May 27 last year.
The 28-year-old Australian suffered a heart attack in the aftermath of that game but was told in December he could resume his playing career in three months’ time.
He stopped taking medication to thin his blood a fortnight ago and took part in his first full-contact session at training yesterday, putting him on course for a tumultuous return.
“The last few months have given me a great opportunity to get my body fit cardio-wise and strength-wise,” said Purtell.
“Tom Clough, our head of strength and conditioning, has worked hard with me with a very personalised programme.
“I don’t think I could have done much more to get fit off the field, so it’s just a matter of playing games now.
“It will be a mixture of excitement and nerves but I don’t want that to get the better of me because it’s going to be a big enough occasion as it is.
“I need to contain my emotions and, if I’m given the opportunity to play, I just need to do my job because I’ve worked really hard to be in a position where I’m fit enough to play.
“The best thing for me would be to get out on the field and make a carry or a tackle as soon as I can.
“After that it’s business as usual because usually when you’re out on the field you tend to forget about everything else.”
Purtell is in fine physical shape and stood up well to the physical contact with team-mates in training yesterday.
He emerged unscathed from a collision with hulking Tonga prop Manase Manuokafoa, who weighs in at over 18 stone.
Purtell said: “We did a bit of contact with the pads and I got Nas to ran straight at me as hard as he could! I picked the biggest bloke and it felt all right.
“I did a little bit out on the field as well, so the contact doesn’t faze me too much.
“Like I say, I’ve already done a lot of work in the gym which has got my body physically ready. I feel really good, so I don’t think the physical side of things will be a problem.”
Despite a lack of match action, Purtell said: “I did another cardio-vascular VO2 max test on Wednesday and the specialist said my results showed a 12 per cent increase in fitness, which is pretty good when you’re already fit.
“He just stood by his comments that he thought I was ready to resume playing professional rugby league and, now that I’m off my medication, he’s happy for me to do that straight away.”
Purtell’s availability is timely to Cummins as the Bulls coach has seen his squad decimated by injury.
But Jamie Foster should return and John Bateman will feature for his first Super League appearance since last August.
Purtell said: “We’ve had a lot of injuries but when people are out it just gives other people opportunities. It’s an ideal chance to come on and play off the bench.
“I’m really going to enjoy Sunday’s game, with it being at home. It’s been a long road but the support I’ve received from the club, the fans and my family has been awesome.
“Hull KR have been playing well and had a great win last week – but we’ve had a good start to the year as well. We want to maintain that momentum and we’ve got the opportunity to do that this weekend.”