Of all the talent to have left the Bulls in recent times, John Bateman’s departure cut the deepest with supporters.
Bradford born and bred, Bateman was seen as not only a future Bulls captain but a future England captain too.
He was a boyhood Bulls fan, a rough diamond who just needed a little polishing, but on November 1 last year he was sold to Wigan for around £70,000.
After a succession of financial problems, Bateman made it clear he wanted out and joined last season’s double winners on a three-year deal.
The second rower, named man-of-the-match after an outstanding performance in Wigan’s win at St Helens on Good Friday, could face his former club for the first time today.
The 20-year-old said: “There had been talk of me leaving Bradford before but I ended up signing a new deal (in October 2012).
“The financial problems were supposed to be getting sorted but they arose again and I just wanted to go then.
“I wanted to be in a secure environment where I knew I would be getting paid.
“At the end of the day, when a team like Wigan come knocking on your door, it’s a no-brainer isn’t it?
“I bit their hands off because it’s something you can’t really say no to.
“It wasn’t just about getting messed about over getting paid, it was about my career and wanting to win things and play for England.
“I wanted to be in an environment like Wigan where they are constantly pushing you and making sure that it’s going to bring the best out of you.
“It’s the intensity of everything here – the training, the work ethic and the expectancy on you as a player.
“Even in training you’re expected to be at your best and if you’re not then you won’t be playing, it’s as simple as that.
“They have internationals who you can learn from and as a club we are pushing to win silverware.
"Sean O’Loughlin is the best player by far that I’ve ever played with and him helping me out has done me the world of good.
“I have played quite a few games this season, although Shaun Wane has given me a bit of rest and started me on the bench at times too.”
Bateman is enjoying life at Wigan after relocating across the Pennines but he remains close friends with several Bradford players and is back home on a regular basis to see his young daughter Millie.
Today will be a strange experience for the former Dudley Hill amateur.
Bateman said: “I’m looking forward to it, although it will feel a bit weird playing against Bradford and some of my old mates.
“I keep in touch with quite a few of the lads there over Twitter and I speak to Adrian Purtell and Oliver Roberts quite a lot on the phone.
“There are number of players who have left Bradford because of the financial problems and they are good players.
“There are the likes of Elliott (Whitehead), who is doing really well at Catalan now, and (Craig) Kopczak at Huddersfield.
“It’s sad to see Bradford like that and you never really think it’s going to happen but it’s just one of those things I suppose.
“They definitely can stay up. Every week I always look for their results because my mates are playing there.
“I just hope they stay in Super League but with the quality of players they have got, such as Luke Gale, Lee Gaskell and others, I’m confident they can.
“Obviously I’ll always have some affinity with the Bulls because that’s where I started my career. I will always look out for them and follow their fortunes.”
Bateman captained the England Academy side during their tour of Australia in 2012 and was back Down Under for Wigan’s World Club Challenge with Sydney Roosters in February.
Bateman played in that defeat but that he was even involved said much for his rise to prominence.
He added: “If someone had told me after the England tour in 2012 that I would be back out there and playing in a World Club Challenge then I wouldn’t have believed them.
“You don’t realise how important experiences like that are until you’re actually doing them.
“Going to the other side of the world gives you that extra bit of know-how which can only benefit you.
“Obviously the World Club Challenge result (the Roosters beat Wigan 36-14) wasn’t what we wanted but I think we learnt a lot more from losing the game.
“We found out that we have things to improve on and it makes you hungrier for success.
“You want to be there again next year and that means winning Super League again. That defeat has made us hungrier to succeed.”
Bateman is aiming for yet another trip Down Under later this year when England take on Australia, New Zealand and either Fiji or Samoa in the Four Nations.
On current form, he must surely be edging his way towards a first senior cap.
“It’s always there at the back of your mind,” admitted the fiercely-competitive back-rower.
“You want to do your best for your club and just hope you get picked for England.
“At the end of the day I’ve just got to get my head down and try and play hard and do as well as I can for Wigan.
“If I get the call at the end of the year then so be it, but it’s certainly a good carrot to have.”