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Bradford Bulls bid to turn jeers into cheers in Challenge Cup
Bulls coach Francis Cummins has backed his newly-bolstered squad to conjure the right response when they take on Catalan Dragons in tomorrow’s Challenge Cup fifth-round tie.
The Bulls have been boosted by the arrival of Hull FC back-rower Jay Pitts and centre Joe Arundel on loan until the end of the season.
Pitts, 24, will feature tomorrow but 22-year-old Arundel is cup-tied and should make his debut in next weekend’s Super League home clash with Warrington.
Now Cummins is seeking a vast improvement from his players after the humiliating club-record defeat at Wigan on Easter Monday.
Head coach Cummins said: “What I’m looking for is a reaction to the Wigan game.
“I’m really disappointed that we dropped to a standard which on that day wasn’t acceptable.
“The players have had one week off where they have dropped the bundle but they have never stopped working for this club – never.
“They have been getting it from all angles and don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I have blasted them.
“That could have been at half-time or like today (Friday) at training when I’ve been brutally honest with them.
“No-one means to play as bad as that; I’m not sure we could play as bad as that again. We have got to make sure that we don’t.”
Managing director Steve Ferres issued an apology to supporters who travelled to Wigan but Cummins said diplomatically: “Steve has been brought in as managing director and he’s got to look at whatever he’s got to look at.
“But I’ve got a group of players there who have been through hell. My job is to protect my players.
“We capitulated and my frustration has been that we have never once given up on each other but for that one time.”
Jamie Foster, Matt Diskin, Adam Sidlow and Luke George are all back in contention to play tomorrow.
Dale Ferguson (back) and James Donaldson (ankle) remain sidelined but could be back next weekend.
Cummins, whose squad were addressed by owner Marc Green in midweek, said: “The way Marc spoke to the players was exactly what needed to be said.
“In fact, I went a bit harder with the players in training than Marc did.”
Clubs are allowed to have up to four players on loan at any one time and Cummins says he has other targets in mind.
He said: “Hopefully in the next week or so we can either get some more loans in or actual signings. There are things happening now, which is good.”
Pitts and Arundel have both played for Doncaster on dual-registration this season.
Ossett-based Pitts, who was coached by Cummins at Leeds, said: “I’m here as long as I’m needed and will work my backside off for Bradford now.
“Franny’s a good coach and I’m glad to be working with him again.
“Being here will be good for my game and hopefully it will benefit Bradford.
“I need to show Hull that I deserve to be playing regularly for them.”
Castleford-based Arundel said: “I’ve had limited chances at Hull and, while I’ve played at Doncaster, it’s not Super League.
“They’re a good bunch of lads here and I’m looking forward to playing Super League week in and week out.
“I’ve got another two years left on my Hull contract after this, so I want to be showing them what I can do and hopefully push for my spot back.
“It’s been hard but Radders (Lee Radford) picks his team and you’ve got to respect that.
“I’ll do my best for Bradford and show them what I can do. If Hull want me back then so be it.”
Cummins, meanwhile, wants his players to mix it with Catalans’ notoriously physical pack, including in-form Elliott Whitehead.
Cummins said: “Elliott is playing really well at the moment with both sides of his game, and that’s good for him.
“The size of Catalans’ pack means they are rolling through teams but we’ve got to start getting in people’s faces and ruffling a few feathers again.
“I’ve talked to Jamal Fakir about playing with his head and not his heart.
“He has to keep a lid on that but there’s no doubt he has a point to prove in this game.”
Meanwhile, the Bulls’ appeal against their points penalty is now expected to be heard the week after next.
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