Jamie Foster has targeted a top-six finish this season after hailing the spirit within the Bulls’ squad as the best he has ever known.
Coach Francis Cummins took his players to Oxenhope for a meal last week and asked them what they felt was a reasonable goal for the year ahead.
Foster, signed on a one-year deal from St Helens, expressed his belief that the Bulls can finish sixth and reach the Super League play-offs for the first time since 2008.
The 22-year-old winger said: “We all sat down and Franny said ‘we’ve come here tonight because I want to see where you are. If you don’t think we’re at it, then tell me and I’m not going to hold anything against you or let it affect my team selection’.
“Franny has been around the block and doesn’t want to hear certain things just to make it sound like we’re interested.
“He’s asked us to think about where we really are as a team and to explain it.
“We were very honest and some players thought we were going to be really high up the league.
“But there wasn’t one bloke who thought we’d finish lower than sixth or seventh.
“We are very realistic here but we definitely think we can make the play-offs.
“I think with the squad and the quality we have here that sixth is the absolute minimum.
“I believe we’ll be underachieving massively if we finish below sixth. We’re better than a lot of teams in this league.”
The Bulls’ squad has been hit by a raft of departures since the end of a traumatic 2012 campaign but the recruitment of Foster, Adam Sidlow and Matty Blythe looks shrewd.
Foster feels the collective desire that Cummins has harnessed among his troops bodes well for their prospects.
Moreover, he insists the togetherness within the squad is stronger than the team spirit he experienced at Saints and during his loan spell at Hull FC last year.
Foster said: “Our unity is something we’ve definitely got going for us – more than any other team I’ve played for.
“I don’t mean going out drinking, I mean the day-to-day banter.
“At St Helens and Hull there were maybe different sections of people.
“You might have your Aussies or younger lads who stick together.
“But here? Everyone is on the same level.
“You could pick any five blokes from this squad and I could go out and talk to them and hold an in-depth conversation.
“We get on so well and I think that’s something you do need.
“I don’t think at St Helens we did much team bonding.
“At Hull we didn’t do much team bonding.
“It was just a case of turn up for training and then go home.
“Here at Bradford, I think we’ve got a little bit more going for us in that department.”
Aside from an unmistakable team spirit, Foster says the Bulls’ arduous pre-season has left them in excellent shape heading into their Super League opener at home to Wakefield on Sunday.
“We’ve had an awesome pre-season and the training with Tom Clough, our head of strength and conditioning, has been unbelievable,” he said.
“It’s the toughest I’ve ever known it physically but I can’t wait for Sunday now.”