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New Bradford Bulls recruit Lee Gaskell feels at home already ahead of pre-season work
First impressions usually have a lasting effect and there was no doubting Lee Gaskell’s thoughts as he began life as a Bradford player this week.
The bulk of Francis Cummins’ squad were back at their Tong training base on Monday for a series of tests ahead of the start of pre-season proper at the start of next week.
And former St Helens man Gaskell, who spent the majority of the 2013 campaign on loan at Salford, quickly felt at home.
“It looks like we’re all set for a big future here,” said Gaskell, who turned 23 on Monday.
“I’ve been very impressed with the new set-up, all the new staff and all the facilities in the gym.
“I obviously haven’t been here long but all the boys have made me feel welcome and I’m enjoying it already.
“I had a bit of a blow-out in one of the tests but I can’t wait for pre-season to fully get going next week.”
Cummins beat off competition from Salford and a number of other clubs to sign Gaskell, who progressed through the ranks at St Helens and made a try-scoring debut under Mick Potter during a home defeat to Catalan in July 2010.
He enjoyed an outstanding 2011 campaign, and played in Saints’ Grand Final defeat to Leeds, but in March this year he joined Salford on loan until the end of the season.
Gaskell impressed in a struggling side and Salford coach Brian Noble wanted to sign him permanently.
Instead he penned a two-year deal with the Bulls and, like close friend Jamie Foster, left home-town club St Helens behind him after falling down the pecking order at Langtree Park.
Gaskell said: “The reason I wanted to move is because I want to play decent rugby week in, week out and I didn’t want to be in and out of the team like I was at Saints.
“I’m 23 now and it’s the time I need to be playing consistent rugby and making sure I secure that starting spot by playing well.
“Saints is still a fantastic club, and will always be special to me because it’s my home-town club, but it’s good to get a new start.
“I know it’ll do me good coming here and I’m thankful to Bradford for giving me that opportunity.”
Gaskell has spoken of his desire to claim the coveted stand-off role in the Bulls side but knows he faces plenty of competition from Jarrod Sammut.
“My favourite position is obviously at half-back but I’m realistic in my targets,” said Gaskell, who played the majority of his games for Salford at full back and can also play in the centres.
“I just want to play well and do a job for the team week in, week out no matter what position I play.
“There’s some great players in there like Jarrod and Luke Gale, so I know that I’m going to have to work hard.
“Hopefully that’s what I can do this pre-season and impress to prove that I’m worth that shot.
“I think we can definitely achieve a play-off spot and should even be looking at the top six. You look at the players that have come in this year and they’re all top-class.”
Gaskell is looking forward to the daily journeys across the M62 with the rest of the club’s north west-based players.
“I’ve been brought into the Lancashire bus and it’s a great laugh on the way down,” he said.
“It’s good because it helps you form that strong bond with each other quickly.
“There’s quite a few of us who get on it – including Matty Blythe, Jamie Foster, Gaz Carvell, Chev Walker, Adam Sidlow and probably Frank Winterstein as well after he’s signed.
“There’s a few of us and we will have some fun, I’m sure.”
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