Francis Cummins has been tipped as a leading contender for the Super League Coach of the Year award – by arguably the best coach in the business.
Warrington boss Tony Smith, who gave Cummins his first coaching position during their time together at Leeds, has applauded the efforts of his former assistant during a troubled 2013 campaign.
Five weeks after the Bulls beat Warrington in a Super League encounter, Smith’s men return to Odsal seeking revenge in Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Cummins has been forced to work under extreme circumstances this year following the club’s ownership saga, slide into administration and subsequent loss of six points and three key players.
The appeal against their points penalty began in Leeds yesterday, but no decision was reached after the independent panel requested ‘further supportive information’ from the Bulls - and no outcome is now expected until next week.
Smith, who attended a press conference at Odsal yesterday, said of his former apprentice: “Franny has done a remarkable job in keeping this place together in the face of some incredible challenges.
“They have had their off-days, which is inevitable in sport and even more so with the amount of obstacles that Bradford have faced in the last couple of years.
“But for Franny to keep this group together with the fighting spirit they have shown, I think he deserves a whole lot of accolades, support and recognition.
“It’s a tough job regardless when you are working with 30 or 40 young men, but with all the off-field issues Bradford have faced, it must be hard to keep them all together fighting for the same cause, especially for a young coach like Franny.
“But I think he’s done it with a whole lot of style and dignity.”
Cummins actually picked up the Coach of the Year award in 2012 on behalf of Mick Potter, who, along with his staff, worked voluntarily for three months after being made redundant by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle.
Asked if the 37-year-old could land the award this year if he keeps Bradford in Super League, Smith insisted: “I think he should probably get it anyway, regardless of whether they stay up.
“It remains to be seen whether they can close that gap but after all the challenges that Franny has faced, he’s a prime candidate for it and he will certainly get my vote come the end of the year.
“You look at the players who have been sold off, the uncertainty whether they would be paid and what support staff he would have, but Franny has kept Bradford tight and you could see that when they beat us last month.”
Cummins is still trying to extend Antonio Kaufusi’s loan but the Huddersfield prop and fellow loanee Joe Arundel are cup-tied anyway this weekend.