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Wine expert Jamal Fakir wants to toast Bradford Bulls revival
If the Bulls are still in Super League come September, then expect Jamal Fakir to raise a glass of his favourite red in celebration.
Like many Frenchmen, the new recruit enjoys a tipple or two.
Yet he is not only a wine connoisseur but a vineyard owner – and business is booming.
Fakir was ready to walk away from rugby league following his acrimonious split with Catalan Dragons last month.
An offer to join the Bulls until the end of the season was gladly accepted but his lucrative sideline will also keep him busy.
The 31-year-old prop revealed: “I love red wine and I want to create a big business for when I’ve finished in rugby league.
“Myself and two friends bought two vineyards near Perpignan and we have agreed a deal with the Japanese.
“We already have a deal to sell them 100,000 bottles and at the moment it’s great.
“At the start it was difficult with a lot of paperwork but it’s okay now.
“Once we sold them 24,000 bottles, they wanted us to sell to them again, again and again.
“We started three years ago and, now I’m here in Bradford, my two friends will do all the work for me!”
Fakir’s Super League career looked over when he was harshly singled out as an example of all that was wrong among their players after a 56-14 mauling at Wakefield on March 9.
He was told he would spend the rest of his contract in the reserve grade – but confronted their owner Bernard Guasch and told him he was having none of it.
So he effectively retired, only for Francis Cummins to get in touch and ask him if he still had the desire to perform at the highest level.
Fakir said: “Catalan said to me I’d finish my contract with them in the reserve grade, not just one game but for the remainder of my deal.
“At first I said yes but then I got home and was thinking and thinking. I called Bernard and told him I wanted a meeting, where I said I’d stop now.
“I don’t think back. I’ve never spoken to anyone at Catalan since I finished. My contract there ended on March 31 there and now it’s my life.
“But I don’t think the criticism that was made in public in France was fair.
“Maybe Bernard doesn’t know where the big problem is, maybe he does and isn’t prepared to say.
“The big problem is not the players, it’s another problem.”
Fakir’s Bradford career starts in tomorrow’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie with Championship One side Oldham but thoughts are already on next week’s Super League clash with Salford.
Fakir is confident of beating the drop and added: “The squad isn’t very experienced and I’m here to give what Francis wants.
“It’s been a very hard start for Bradford but I hope we finish very well.
“I know players such as Matt Diskin and have played against Elliot Kear, who I am living with, for France against Wales.
“My deal is until the end of the season and I want to rediscover my best rugby league.
“I have five months to rediscover that and hopefully if everyone is happy I can stay longer.
“I don’t know which team I will be at next season but that doesn’t matter at the moment. I’m here now and I will give 100 per cent for the club.
“Of course, the Bulls can survive. I don’t know which teams will go down but it won’t be Bradford.”
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