Bulls coach Francis Cummins last night insisted all of his players were in contention for a place in the team after revealing his 2014 squad numbers.
Nine members of last season’s first-team squad have left the club and five of those – Keith Lulia, Heath L’Estrange, John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead and Jamie Langley – were in Cummins’ top 13.
Their departure has seen Jamie Foster, Matt Diskin, Tom Olbison, Dale Ferguson and Chev Walker handed numbers in the top 13, while Garreth Carvell has been given the ten jersey ahead of Manase Manuokafoa.
Carvell and Ferguson are the only two new recruits to have been awarded a starting number, with Lee Gaskell, Luke George and Adam Henry given 17, 20 and 21 respectively.
Although the numbers in the 25-strong squad would appear to represent Cummins’ first-choice team, the Bulls coach said places remain up for grabs ahead of the Super League opener at home to Castleford on February 16.
The 2014 squad numbers were announced at last night’s shirt presentation evening ahead of tomorrow’s opening pre-season friendly at home to Hull FC.
Cummins said: “Some people get the nod because they’ve got a little bit more experience and you could probably say that with Gaz Carvell.
“There’s a little bit of reward there as well with the likes of Tom Olbison getting a starting number and Chev Walker too.
“There have obviously been a few departures so naturally other players take their numbers and move up the pecking order.
“But every one of my players is in the mix and will get the opportunity to show what they can do during pre-season.
“The players have trained the house down these past couple of months and are ready to get out there and finally play a game this weekend.”
The Bulls yesterday announced a new kit sponsorship deal with the University of Bradford which will see the university’s branding feature on the home and away jerseys in 2014.
Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday that Super League will become a 12-team competition from 2015 after the 14 member clubs backed plans to introduce a new structure.
From next year, Super League will feature 12 clubs alongside a 12-team Championship that would divide into three divisions of eight two-thirds of the way through the campaign.
The top eight in Super League will then play off as normal for a place in the Grand Final, with the bottom four joining the top four from the Championship to play each other for the right to compete in the top flight in 2016.
At a meeting in St Helens, which saw the Bulls represented by chief executive Robbie Hunter-Paul and former director Mark Moore, the clubs voted unanimously to return promotion and relegation and pledged their support to the proposed structure which is a central part of the RFL’s policy review.
The Bulls, meanwhile, are advising 2014 season-ticket holders that season cards are available for collection from the Provident Stadium. Cards can be claimed at any point, including tomorrow’s visit of Hull FC.
2014 squad numbers: 1 Brett Kearney, 2 Elliot Kear, 3 Adrian Purtell, 4 Matty Blythe, 5 Jamie Foster, 6 Jarrod Sammut, 7 Luke Gale, 8 Nick Scruton, 9 Matt Diskin, 10 Garreth Carvell, 11 Tom Olbison, 12 Dale Ferguson, 13 Chev Walker, 14 Manase Manuokafoa, 15 Adam Sidlow, 16 Danny Addy, 17 Lee Gaskell, 18 James Donaldson, 19 Adam O'Brien, 20 Luke George, 21 Adam Henry, 22 Sam Wood, 23 Oliver Roberts, 24 Alex Mellor, 25 Nathan Conroy.