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Bradford Bulls: Olivier Elima sings former team-mates’ praises
Olivier Elima has backed the Bulls to end four years of hurt and make the play-offs – but is out to halt their charge tomorrow.
The fiery Frenchman quit Bradford at the end of last season and returned home for a second stint at Catalan Dragons.
Despite being among a mass exodus at the end of 2012, Elima says the core of the Bulls team has remained intact and will continue to prosper under Francis Cummins.
Elima, 29, said: “Of the top 17 players from last year, pretty much everyone is still there and, when I look at Bradford now, it’s a very competitive team.
“That shows in their results and knowing Francis Cummins as I do, he would have assembled his squad very carefully.
“He knows what he wants and didn’t renew some players’ contracts last year because he probably wanted to make a statement.
“He could have taken the easy option and re-signed players but he bided his time, chose other players and has a small but very talented squad.
“They’re great players and they’ve shown already what they are capable of this season.”
Elima is enjoying life in the south of France and could join Leon Pryce, Ian Henderson and Steve Menzies in facing his former club tomorrow.
Due to the financial meltdown which gripped the Bulls last season, Elima was forced to look elsewhere during the crisis.
He explained: “It was the final year of my contract and Bradford weren’t in a position to start talking to players because they didn’t even know they were going to be in Super League.
“There was some interest from other clubs and Catalan was probably the best option for me as it allowed me to take my family back to France.
“In other circumstances, and had Bradford wanted me, then I probably would have stayed. But that option was never there.”
Elima is confident the future is bright at Bradford with a number of homegrown players having risen to prominence.
He added: “John Bateman came into the team as a 17-year-old and quickly showed he is one of best young players in England.
“Tom Olbison is another very good player. He keeps his head down and gets on with things.
“Elliott Whitehead can scores tries out of nothing and was always a pleasure to play with him.
“We used to hang out together a lot and these guys are the future for Bradford.”
Nevertheless, the ultra-competitive Elima admits he would love to taste victory over his old team-mates tomorrow.
He said: “I’m so glad Bradford have had a great season but obviously I want to be in a winning team on Saturday.
“May the best team win – that’s all I can say. We’ve had a decent start to the season and Steve Menzies is still doing the business at the age of 39.
“He’s not just making up the numbers – he’s playing out of his skin and is a freak of nature.”