As the build-up to tomorrow night’s big game at Hull FC continues, Ross Heppenstall interviews the player whose controversial defection to the Black and Whites prompted threats of legal action. Here, Garreth Carvell talks openly about his reasons for leaving the Bulls.
At the Bulls’ pre-season media day on January 20, Garreth Carvell spoke of his hopes for the year ahead.
Of how his move to Bradford could lay the platform for a career in coaching.
He had signed for Francis Cummins’ side after turning down better money elsewhere.
There were plans to help out with the Bulls’ Under-16s and Academy sides.
Carvell’s performance the previous day in the opening pre-season friendly against (ironically, as it turned out) Hull FC merely confirmed that Bradford had recruited one of the best props around.
Less than two weeks later, following a winter of discontent behind the scenes, the club entered administration and Carvell was gone.
He used the TUPE legislation in refusing to transfer over his contract from OK Bulls Ltd and headed to Hull, where he had made his Super League name.
Carvell said: “As December came around, some problems started to arise but I was hopeful that things would get better and we would come out the other end.
“Certainly amongst the boys there was an air of optimism during pre-season and we felt like we could do something this year.
“Then all of a sudden the club was thrown into administration and that was the beginning of the end for me.
“What had happened was that the club had found quite a lot of debt, so anybody sensible would look at other options.
“We were allowed to go and do that in order to save the club money and help it survive.
“After the club went into administration at the end of January, I used the TUPE legislation to come out; I refused to change over.
“I just knew I couldn’t handle the stress; it was just the uncertainty of the whole situation.
“I’ve got a son with special needs and I need to be able to pay his hospital bills.
“My job as a father is to do the best by my family. If that is thrown into disarray and there is a chance I might not be able to support my family, then I have to make a tough choice.
“Despite what people think, I had to make that choice.”
Carvell was vilified in some quarters but his decision was made easier by the reaction of Cummins and his now former team-mates.
Telling his coach he was jumping ship and heading to Hull was the hardest part.
The former Warrington man, 32, explained: “I could have rung Franny and done it over the phone but I wanted to do it face to face.
“I did that and it was tough because I’m good friends with him and I think he’s a fantastic coach.
“I was really looking forward to seeing out my career at Bradford; that was my full intention but circumstances changed.
“I spoke to the lads about that and they were good about it too.
“As far as I was concerned, I didn’t really care what people thought, as long as I was square with Franny and the boys.
“I’ve had quite a bit of abuse on Twitter and things like that but people don’t know the full situation.
“They’re entitled to their opinion and will be disappointed as they will believe I’ve left them in the lurch, which I suppose to a certain extent I have.
“I do feel bad for that, I feel responsible for letting the boys down and letting Franny down but it was a decision that I couldn’t not make.
“Nobody really knew what was happening and that uncertainty unsettles you; it’s unnerving.
“Having personally not experienced it before made it ten times worse.”
Carvell’s refusal to transfer his contract to Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd, the company led by the former board of directors, led to Bradford stating their intention to issue legal proceedings against him.
That now appears unlikely given that the club are in the hands of the administrator and are searching desperately for new owners.
But the effects of administration have become clear with Carvell, Jarrod Sammut and Nick Scruton having since departed in addition to the club being docked six points.
Carvell, who is currently commuting to Hull from his home in Warrington, said: “Jarrod and Scrutes have both pretty much made the same decision as me.
“Scrutes has a young lad and Jarrod’s missus is expecting, so you have to do what’s right by them.
“I know Scrutes has really struggled with it. I met him on Saturday and we had a good chat about it.
“It’s just the guilt and the thought that you’re walking away from the boys who are ready to get hurt and go into battle with you. That’s the hardest thing.”
The prop will not face his former team-mates when the Bulls travel to the KC Stadium aiming to see their six-point penalty wiped out after just four games.
Carvell, who misses out tomorrow night with an ankle injury, added: “It’s going to be tight, there’s no doubt about it, but I do genuinely feel that Bradford can survive on the field.
“That’s the only thing that the players have any control over.
“That’s the attitude which has got them through in previous years and can do so again.
“They have won two games already and they are quite willing to lay their lives down for each other.
“They are the best group of lads that I’ve ever been involved with and I hope they stay in Super League.”