Jimmy Lowes seeking positive attitude from Bradford Bulls squad but recruitment must start now (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Jimmy Lowes seeking positive attitude from Bradford Bulls squad but recruitment must start now
JIMMY Lowes was asked at Tuesday's press conference whether he would look to build his team around a strong forward pack.
Reminded of the 'Awesome Foursome' that he played alongside in the all-conquering Bulls side, the acerbic response was classic Lowes.
"They were only awesome because I made them awesome!" said the new head coach.
Cue laughter all round.
After a decade away from Odsal, Lowes was back at his spiritual home; cracking jokes, giving countless interviews, talking of returning the club to the glories which became the norm during his playing days.
"I was buzzing just to get an interview and that was massively important for me," said 44-year-old Lowes, who gave up his position as Leeds Carnegie head coach to take the Bulls hot-seat.
"But to actually get the job? I was chuffed to pieces."
A three-year deal suggests Lowes will be given time but he now needs a commodity equally precious to any head coach.
The Bulls appear almost certain to be playing in the Championship next season and one leading agent believes Lowes may need to recruit up to 20 players to offset what could be a mass exodus.
Only Sam Bates and Adam Brook are believed to have contracts still keeping them at the club in the event of relegation.
The rest of the players would be free to leave so it is critical they start assembling a squad for next year, with ambitious Leigh and Featherstone having already made their intentions clear.
A top-four finish in the Championship next season is a must in order to have any hope of promotion back to Super League at the end of 2015.
"I have targets in mind," said Lowes.
It has been said that Francis Cummins was not given the tools to do the job this season, with Jamal Fakir having been the club's only permanent signing since Marc Green took over in March.
The rest have been largely loan signings, with mixed results.
There is no doubt the Bulls' better players would leave in the event of relegation, with Lowes admitting as much this week.
Efforts must surely be made to tie down home-grown youngsters such Oliver Roberts, Alex Mellor and Nathan Conroy before they are snapped up elsewhere.
Build a side around these lads who have a love for Bradford and put them alongside some hardened, seasoned campaigners who are up for the challenge of leading what will effectively be the club's rebirth.
It remains to be seen what kind of squad Lowes will have at his disposal when the Bulls kick off life in the Championship next season – but time is of the essence.
What the Bulls should not lack under Lowes, however, is desire.
Few can forget his fearsome approach as a player, intimidating and inspiring in equal measure.
He successfully transmitted that to his squad at Leeds last season, when they reached the play-off semi-finals, and will now aim to stamp his outlook on the Bulls squad.
"The big thing last year at Leeds was the attitude of the boys and that's a big thing in sport generally," said Lowes.
"Look at the World Cup and the Costa Ricans now. It's nothing to do with their skill but everything to do with their attitude.
"They have brushed everything aside and said 'we'll work harder than everybody else'.
"That's why they've had a little bit of success. It's not the be-all and end-all because you still need quality in your team.
"But if you've got the right attitude it takes you a long way. That was massive for me to have the players' attitude.
"It just goes to show that while they might not have been the best players in the league, to nearly achieve promotion – after being coached by someone who knew very little about the game – was all credit to them."
Lowes could soon find himself plotting a promotion push in the Championship, only this time the 13-man code, and will hope to have the squad in place to do so.
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