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Bradford Bulls play-off failure won’t count against Francis Cummins
Gerry Sutcliffe insists the Bulls are “heading in the right direction” and pledged his support for coach Francis Cummins after the club’s latest play-off failure.
Sunday’s defeat at Castleford confirmed that Bradford would miss out on the Super League play-offs for the fifth year in succession.
But co-chairman Sutcliffe, while admitting there was plenty of room for improvement, said the club could reflect on a season of steady progress on and off the field.
Sutcliffe and Omar Khan took over at Odsal almost 12 months ago and handed Cummins a three-year deal as successor to Mick Potter.
Former Sports Minister Sutcliffe said: “It’s been a learning curve for everyone this year and we have certainly learnt a lot.
“We’ve been pleased with the progress we’ve made and recognise some of the things we need to do better next year but we are heading in the right direction.
“You can’t fault the spirit of the players and that was clear even in defeat at Castleford on Sunday. That’s right from the young guys to the older, more experienced players.”
Cummins has been forced to operate on a shoestring budget and with arguably the smallest squad in Super League this year.
After a bright start to the season, his team’s play-off hopes gradually faded.
But the arrival of players such as Garreth Carvell, Dale Ferguson, Luke George and others has encouraged hopes that the Bulls will be far stronger in 2014 – when the bottom clubs will be relegated from the top flight.
Sutcliffe said: “Franny is the coach and he now has to reflect on what he needs for next year, which he has started already with the signings he has made.
“We’re right behind him and we think he’s done a fantastic job in his first season in charge.
“We’re all disappointed that we didn’t get into the play-offs but we’ve been there or thereabouts for most of the season.
“I’d like to thank Franny, the coaching staff and the players for all their efforts this season, given where we started from.”
Sutcliffe is confident the club can look forward to a bright future after a difficult first year in charge.
“We’ve got a good hardcore of supporters, a solid base of a team and a great coach as well as some very good people running the club,” he said.
“We’re now all working together to make sure that we build this great club up again to what it once was and can be again.”
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