This is no relegation team, says new Bradford Bulls signing Sutcliffe (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Leeds Rhinos teenager Liam Sutcliffe admits: I certainly never thought I’d be wearing a Bradford Bulls jersey
Resplendent in the red, amber and black of Bradford, Liam Sutcliffe looked every inch a Bulls player at the club’s Tong headquarters this week.
That he was born in Leeds, grew up supporting Leeds and now plays for Leeds merely adds intrigue to his move to Odsal.
The 19-year-old, rated as one of the best young players in the game, has joined the Rhinos’ fierce rivals on a month-long loan and will make his debut at Hull tonight.
During last weekend’s trip to Catalan, Leeds boss Brian McDermott asked Sutcliffe if he was keen on the move.
The answer was affirmative.
Sutcliffe, a stand-off or loose forward, said: “There was a choice of staying at Leeds and probably playing in the under-19s or coming to Bradford and playing in Super League.
“This is a great opportunity for me. I don’t know whether I can be a regular starter in Super League as I’m still only 19.
“But I feel I can cope at this level as I played 18 games last year and one this season.
“Brian said it would be great for me to come here and there has never been any doubt that Bradford are a very good team.
“What has gone on in the background at the club hasn’t been great for the players and coaching staff.
“But their attitude is superb and they don’t see themselves as a relegation club.
“They see themselves as a top-eight team and that’s what we’re aiming for. If we win at Hull then we’ve won back the six points we had docked.”
Sutcliffe cuts an impressive figure at 6ft 2in and over 14st and his running game should complement Luke Gale’s organisational skills and tactical kicking if, as expected, they are paired together during the next month.
Sutcliffe said: “I think that would work well as a partnership.
“Luke can control the game and I can get round the back of things with a bit more of a running game.”
At the end of his initial one-month loan period, Sutcliffe will be available on a week-to-week basis, raising the prospect of him facing Leeds in the Good Friday derby at Odsal on April 18.
That would cause a stir in the Sutcliffe household as he explained: “After the initial month runs out and it goes to week to week, the fifth game is against Leeds.
“Whether I’ll still be at Bradford then I’m not sure but it would be a bit weird if I did play in it.
“My dad has been a diehard Leeds fan for the last 40 years so when my move here came about I don’t think he knew what to say!
“But he’s happy for me and he’s proud of me.
“If I’m playing in the derby, he might be cheering for me but I don’t think he would be cheering for Bradford!
“I think he would still be cheering for Leeds and I certainly never thought I would be in a Bradford jersey.
“I used to stand in the South Stand when I was a kid and there is a big rivalry between the clubs. But I’d never not want to come to Bradford just because they are Leeds’ rivals.
“I wanted game-time and this is a great club to come to. Rugby league is a family sport so if one club is struggling then teams are willing to help each other.”
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