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As Bradford Bulls cash crisis deepens, Keith Lulia vows to maintain peak form
It is being billed as potentially the Bulls’ last-ever Super League game but tomorrow’s trip to Wigan is also an opportunity for Keith Lulia to exorcise a few demons.
The Warriors romped to a thumping 54-16 success at Odsal in February for a round three clash which marked Lulia’s debut. The Cook Islands international, by his own admission, had a nightmare.
He was not the only one. Wigan were superior in every department and now Mick Potter’s squad must shelve fears about their future to take on the Super League leaders again.
Lulia recalled: “The match against Wigan was probably the worst game I’ve ever played. Coming from the NRL, I found it a bit different here and it took me about two or three games to get used to Super League.
“I struggled in that Wigan game, it didn’t go too well, but hopefully when we go over there I can have the opposite sort of game to how my debut went.”
That the close-season signing from Newcastle Knights has since acclimatised to the demands of Super League is undeniable.
Ideally I want to stay at the Bulls. I certainly don’t want to go back to Australia straight away. I like playing footie here and I think I’m playing some good stuffKeith Lulia
His fine brace in last weekend’s win over Wakefield made it ten tries in 18 appearances this season. That underlined his status as one of the best foreign imports into Super League this season, albeit one of the most unheralded.
Lulia said: “We got the win against Wakefield and it was nice to get a couple of tries, which was good. It was good for us to go out there and put all the off-field stuff behind us and just focus on our job.
“Like I say, Wigan tore us up last time we played them but we believe we can get a result on Friday night.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. They’re top of the table and one of the best teams around. But if we defend on our line like we did in the latter stages of the Wakefield game, I reckon we have a good chance of beating them.”
Shortly before he landed in Bradford for pre-season training, Lulia married his partner Kelly in Bali, which turned out to be an unforgettable experience in more ways than one. An earthquake hit the Indonesian island just hours before they were due to tie the knot.
Life at Odsal has not been much calmer for a player who now finds his own future and that of his club in grave doubt. Having entered administration this week, the Bulls have less than a fortnight to find a buyer for the club or face liquidation.
Lulia reasoned: “Coming over here from Australia, moving our whole lives here, we didn’t want to come to a club that’s struggling and on their knees. We’re just hoping that the Bulls don’t fall apart.
“My missus and I are stressing out a little bit but, like I said, we’re just focusing on what we can do and as players that means playing good footie.
“I signed a two-year deal but I’m not sure what will happen and hopefully I’ll have other options if it does go into liquidation.”
Yet Lulia and his wife are settled in Bradford and the rangy centre is unequivocal about what his first choice would be.
He said: “Ideally I want to stay at the Bulls. I certainly don’t want to go back to Australia straight away. I like playing footie here and I think I’m playing some good stuff.
“I don’t want to move to another club over Manchester way because I’m happy in Bradford and have found some good friends around the local area. Everyone’s just praying for a positive outcome.”