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Dignified Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins deserves some good news at last
“One day I’ll look back and laugh at it all,” said Francis Cummins at his pre-match press conference this week.
The Bulls coach had been asked about the endless obstacles he has faced since succeeding Mick Potter in September 2012.
Such as being told during pre-season he had to significantly reduce his backroom staff because the club was over budget and had to make savings of £400,000.
That came during an ownership saga which dragged on and culminated in the Bulls entering administration on January 31, the ramifications of which could reverberate for years.
It led to Cummins’ best prop (Nick Scruton), top try-scorer (Jarrod Sammut) and marquee signing (Garreth Carvell), jumping ship.
John Bateman had been sold for a paltry sum of £71,000 several weeks earlier.
Then came the six-point penalty which threatens to end Bradford’s proud history in the top flight.
During his time as Potter’s assistant, Cummins was among the coaching staff made redundant before returning to work without pay for three months.
“I’m the most experienced coach in Super League in administrations and all the other kinds of rubbish I’ve had to deal with,” added Cummins this week.
Yet throughout it all, the 37-year-old has been a picture of dignity.
Rival Super League coaches speak highly of Cummins and a typical soundbite is that “If Franny can get through this, he can get through anything.”
Staying up this season would certainly be an amazing achievement.
Which brings us on to a four-day period which will go a long way towards shaping the club’s destiny.
Tomorrow, the Bulls host Wakefield in a match which they simply must win.
Three days later, the appeal against their points penalty will be heard.
Picking up two points tomorrow and at least another two on Wednesday would, in the words of owner Marc Green, make it very much “game on” in the fight for survival.
The odds remain stacked against the Bulls, especially as Wakefield have an upcoming run of five successive home games, starting with London Broncos.
Yet it has to be remembered that there are still 13 rounds remaining and plenty of scope for numerous twists and turns.
What cannot be denied is the fact that Bradford need to start winning games.
Cummins has often been reluctant to criticise his men, even after heavy defeats, but his patience snapped last week after last week’s surrender in the south of France.
They owe him a performance tomorrow and you sense they will deliver.
With a virtually full-strength squad available at last, Cummins’ team selection will be telling.
He will pick players he knows he can trust and was given a ringing endorsement by his chairman this week.
The Bulls coach said: “It’s nice that Marc appreciates where we are but our job is to build things back up and get going again.
“That’s my main focus – to win this game and get on with whatever lies ahead because we’re only halfway through the season.
“From a performance point of view, myself and the players can’t say ‘it’s not our fault’ because we’re the ones who can turn things around.
“If we’re at our best then you’ve got to be confident we can win beat Wakefield. If we do that then we can kick on again next week.”
If the Bulls are to begin clawing their way out of trouble, tomorrow really does have to be the starting point.
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