Francis Cummins believes Nick Scruton’s return to full fitness will be like a “new signing” for the Bulls next season.

The former Leeds prop is gearing up for a big year after a couple of injury-plagued campaigns meant Bradford fans saw him at his marauding best only in patches.

An operation to repair ligament damage in his wrist forced 27-year-old Scruton to miss the end of the 2011 season.

He also needed regular injections in his groin and was diagnosed with type-one diabetes.

Scruton played in the opening four rounds of last season and was looking to recapture his best form until sustaining a long-term shoulder injury during the win at Hull KR on March 10.

It was another cruel setback which meant Scruton barely featured for the first-team again in 2012. But he now looks set to play an important role this coming season.

Cummins said: “Having Nick fit is almost like having a new signing because we’ve not really had him available for 12 months.

“Even when he played at the start of last year, he wasn’t able to train fully, so I’m looking forward to him continuing training the way he has since he came back for pre-season.

“We’ve talked to all the forwards individually and Nick is probably as frustrated as anyone else about not playing much. But he’s now injury-free – touch wood – and hasn’t got any issues which prevent him from doing certain things. He’s running freely and is fully fit, which I’m delighted about.

“As a squad we’re going to need Nick, along with everyone else, to be fully fit and to improve next year.”

The Bulls’ pack has been decimated by the departure of Bryn Hargreaves, Craig Kopczak, Tom Burgess and Olivier Elima.

Cummins is therefore keen to recruit at least one more prop to bolster his squad but has stressed he is no rush to make the signing.

The Bulls boss will continue to patiently scour the market and wait for the right player to become available.

For Cummins, attitude is as important as ability.

He explained: “Ideally, I’d like to have all my squad in now. But we shouldn’t forget where the club has been in recent times.

“There aren’t too many players around at this moment in time and if they are then they may not necessarily fit Bradford Bulls.

“We’ve got to be patient because we want the right player but we want the right person too.

“There’s no point me getting a couple of players in, realising that they’re not right for the squad and the environment and then players become available.”

Meanwhile, half-back Cain Southernwood, 20, has joined Championship outfit Whitehaven after agreeing a settlement on the remaining year on his contract with the Bulls.

"I'm looking forward to it, there's a lot of good players signed here," Southernwood said.

"It seems like we've got a good squad together and I'm looking forward to a big season."