Francis Cummins has applauded Adrian Purtell’s rich run of form as the Bulls aim for a third straight win tomorrow against St Helens.
The Australian centre has scored three tries in his past two games and performed admirably in the second row against Warrington last weekend.
The former NRL star is out of contract at the end of the season and it remains to be seen where his future lies as the Bulls battle to stay in Super League.
But Cummins has hailed the 29-year-old, who has revived his career in style after suffering a heart attack two years ago to emerge as an increasingly influential figure in the Bulls’ young squad.
Head coach Cummins said: “It’s that time of year, so we will sit down with Purts and see where we go, but his form has certainly been really good.
“His influence on the group has improved from probably the start of pre-season onwards. He’s taking on more responsibility and is really passionate about his rugby league.
“There are times when he gets really mad, and he has got a bit of a label as ‘Mr Angry’, but it’s for the right reasons. He wants us to become better and that is showing in his form.”
Purtell has played every game for the Bulls this season and weighed in with seven tries so far.
Cummins said: “Purts has been really good in the centres and then we moved him into the back row because of the influence that he has on the people around him.
“He calms people down and has done very well there, so that’s really pleasing.”
Luke George, Manase Manuokafoa and Chev Walker are set to return tomorrow after being named in the Bulls’ 19-man squad.
Cummins admits a third successive win would be another massive boost following the victories over Catalan and Warrington.
He said: “We’ve had to be at our best to win the last two games, regardless of our personnel, and we know we’ll have to be better again this week.
“That’s the way it should be as well because we only had two props against Warrington.
“It would be massive to beat Saints because it has been nice to get a bit of momentum behind us and confidence for the club and the supporters.
“Probably no-one expected us to beat Warrington – and I’m not saying Saints will turn up here and take us lightly, nor am I saying Warrington did.
“But maybe they see our teamsheet and subconsciously think that once we have put all our subs on they are going to run through the middle of us.
“We’ve just got to keep improving and if we do that, I’ll be happy.”
With Brett Kearney out for up to ten weeks following surgery on a fractured thumb, Lee Gaskell could be set for an extended run at full back.
Yet Cummins has another option in Elliot Kear, which could allow Gaskell to return to his favoured role of stand-off alongside Luke Gale.
Cummins is remaining open-minded and said: “It all depends on the balance of the group because I thought Danny Addy did really well against Warrington.
“We just have to think about what’s best for the team and how we’re going to play. I don’t think that one size fits all, all of the time.
“You do need to change your team slightly because with all the video analysis that takes place, other teams are watching what you’re doing.”
The Bulls coach also believes more clubs could be sucked into the relegation dogfight, saying: “There is added pressure this season, especially on those clubs who have spent a lot of money and find themselves right on the edge of it.
“A few losses that way and a few wins our way, then there is panic.
“For the first few weeks of the season, people were thinking ‘it’s London, Bradford and Wakefield’. There is a bit of a feeling now that other teams are looking over their shoulder and thinking ‘that team is coming’.
“I know I have some talent here and some great lads. If other teams above us don’t win games, then we are coming. That’s a great message to send out.”
The Bulls will tomorrow pay their respects to the victims of the Valley Parade fire, 29 years to the day since the tragedy occurred.