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Francis Cummins steps up to take over as Bradford Bulls coach
Francis Cummins yesterday hit the ground running as he began trying to assemble a squad following his appointment as Bulls coach on a three-year deal.
The 35-year-old, set to be the youngest coach in Super League next season, currently has only 16 senior players contracted to the club for 2013.
It is understood that the Bulls are scouring the loan market and could sign some of the best young players from leading clubs such as Wigan and Warrington keen to gain regular Super League experience.
Paul Sykes , meanwhile, is believed to have been offered a two-year deal to join Wakefield permanently and John Bateman ’s rise to prominence is set to be rewarded with a new, improved contract offer.
Former Leeds assistant coach Cummins, recommended to new owners Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe by predecessor Mick Potter, has an impressive contacts book which is set to come into play in the coming weeks.
Yet Cummins, resplendent in a smart grey suit, spoke impressively as he took centre stage at a press conference in the Coral Stand, flanked by Khan and Sutcliffe.
“The hard work starts today and we’ll be looking to sign players up straight away,” declared Cummins.
“There are people out there getting itchy feet at other places but they’ve got to be the right people. They’ve got to buy into this environment and I’ll be speaking to agents in the new few days.
“Yes, we’ve currently got 16 players who are contracted to the club but Gerry, Omar and I have talked about the budget and we’ll hopefully be sitting down with the players in the next few days or weeks to secure a playing staff.
“That will be the current crop of players who are currently playing for us, and hopefully there will be a few of the younger players moving up as well.”
Cummins and Potter returned to Odsal to work without pay since being made redundant by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle on July 2.
It proved a testing time for the former Leeds winger, who was forced to retire early due to injury aged 29 before embarking on a career in coaching at Headingley, first under Tony Smith and latterly Brian McClennan.
Cummins explained: “I wasn’t getting paid but I’ve got three kids and a wife. When you’re thinking about trying to earn some money, it’s a real test of everything.
“I’ve got to publicly thank my wife Katy for that. It wasn’t easy but she didn’t make it any harder.”
Cummins insisted he was ready for the added responsibility of taking the club forward, despite the financial constraints in place at Odsal.
“I’ve been coaching since I was 16, so that’s 20 years,” said Cummins, who said no decision had yet been made on his backroom staff.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I was ready. To be honest, I’ve been ready for a couple of years.”
The administrative structure of the club is set to be decided by the end of this week and Cummins added: “The job has started already.
“My phone isn’t the best – I think it’s on its way out and dieing with the amount of good luck messages and people asking for jobs!
“But it’s all good and I think you have to live this job so much.
“You have your family time but I realise what I’m going to do, although there will come a point in a couple of months where I think ‘this is how it’s going to be’.
“That’s what the head coaches say to me but I’m looking forward to it.”