BULLS rookie Sam Bates is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Sam Burgess after being handed a two-year full-time professional contract.
The 18-year-old from Halifax made his first-team debut during the Easter Monday defeat at Wigan and featured again in the home win over Warrington on May 4.
The teenage prop only trains with Francis Cummins' squad on a part-time basis as he is studying at Calderdale College to become a trainee plumber.
But his dream lies in making the grade at Super League and he now has the opportunity to make the step up from Academy starlet to fully-fledged first-teamer.
Bates, who will begin training full-time with the Bulls upon completion of his college course, said: “I’m over the moon to have agreed a new deal with the club and I really want to make a mark here.
“I have played a couple of first-team games this year and I was 18th man for another.
“I loved every minute of it and want to experience much more of it.
“No-one really expected anything from me and the pressure was off, which enabled me to just go for it.
“I will be training full-time with the first-team pretty much right away once my college commitments are finished.
“The good thing is I will be active throughout the course of next year, as I have been this season, because I can go round again with the Under-19s while attempting to make the first-team.”
The former Siddal amateur joins a long list of players who have progressed through the ranks at Odsal to play first-team rugby.
Bates added: “This club has a history of producing world-class forwards and really want to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Sam Burgess.
“Like Sam, I am viewed as a utility forward, I can play pretty much anywhere in the pack other than hooker.
“He started out at prop but, in recent years, he has played in the back row – for both club and country.
“I idolise Sam, he is an incredible talent, one of the best. And the fact he started out here provides an added incentive for me.
“I would love to follow in his footsteps and play a key role for this fantastic club.”
Bates is now in his third season at the Bulls, having joined them from Huddersfield Giants.
He stands around 5ft 10in and weighs around 92kg but held his own against the champions.
Head coach Francis Cummins said: “Sam has all the necessary attributes to go far in the sport because he is a very hard worker.
“The game time he got against Wigan and Warrington perhaps came earlier than expected for Sam, but he certainly stepped up and did extremely well.
“He’s tough and aggressive and a full-time contract is just reward for his efforts.
“Sam is a developing talent and I would not rule him out of future first-team selection. He grasped his opportunity and enhanced his reputation.
“If required, I would not hesitate in selecting him but Sam knows he is now on a progression path and we are looking forward to seeing how he grows and improves over the coming years.
“This club has a great record when it comes to producing world-class forwards and it is something we are looking to continue with.”
Meanwhile, Bulls loanee Jay Pitts will miss Sunday's crunch clash at Salford after being handed a one-match ban.
The Hull forward, who has impressed since joining Bradford in April, submitted an early guilty plea to a Grade B charge for a dangerous throw on Anthony England during the Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat to Warrington.
The absence of Pitts this weekend is another blow to Cummins' squad after Antonio Kaufusi chose not to extend his loan from Huddersfield.