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Bradford Bulls can't wait to lock horns with Dewsbury Rams
Bulls coach Francis Cummins has revealed his men are “itching to play” as they prepare to face Dewsbury Rams in their opening pre-season friendly on Sunday.
Cummins will take charge of his first game since being appointed as successor to Mick Potter on a three-year deal in September.
The match at his hometown club should provide a stiff test for the Bulls as they seek to overcome a Dewsbury side who beat a hardened Halifax outfit last Sunday.
Cummins will be without Luke Gale, John Bateman, Adrian Purtell, Ben Evans and possibly youngster Oliver Roberts but the Bulls line-up should be an otherwise strong one.
“The lads are itching to play and you could see that just before Christmas,” said the Bradford boss.
“We’ve had to hold them back at certain times on contact to ensure they don’t smash each other up.
“It will be good to see where we are. Not that we will be all-singing and all-dancing but it’ll be great to play a game.”
Gale, Bateman, Purtell and Evans are all sidelined and rookie back-rower Roberts, promoted to the first-team squad at the end of last season, is nursing a few “bumps and bruises” and will be assessed.
But Heath L’Estrange and Keith Lulia returned to training yesterday and Jarrod Sammut and Purtell are also due back this week.
All four spent the Christmas break back in Australia and Cummins added: “Everyone who is fit and available will get a run-out and the kids (Roberts, Curtis Naughton and Sam Wood) will also be considered.”
The Bulls have a “twinning” agreement with the Championship outfit, which will allow Glenn Morrison’s side to tap into the players that cannot get a game in Super League.
Cummins added: “We’ve only taken a little step with the arrangement with Dewsbury and we need to get it going for both clubs and take it to the next level.
“I’m just happy for us to be playing a game at last.
“It’s not a result-based game, it’s more based on putting into practice a few things we’ve been working on.”
The Bulls coach is also keeping his eye out for potential recruits, and in particular a front-rower, following the news that Evans will miss the first three months of the season.