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Tom Olbison making mark for Bradford Bulls away from spotlight
Much is made of the number of talented back-rowers at Francis Cummins’ disposal, and rightly so, but Tom Olbison’s name tends to slip under the radar.
Yet Olbison has emerged during pre-season as a quietly effective and possibly indispensable member of Cummins’ pack.
He impressed against Dewsbury and Leeds and again in last weekend’s Super League opener against Wakefield.
The 21-year-old Leeds lad, who has progressed through the ranks at Bradford, said: “To be fair we’ve always been pretty strong in the back row.
“Then you have Chev (Walker) pushing into loose and Langers (Jamie Langley) putting in shifts up the middle.
“Yes, we’ve definitely got some good back-rowers and we’ve got John to come back as well next month.
“For me it’s just a matter of performing well week in, week out. Hopefully whenever I’m fit I can hold my spot.”
Bateman, Whitehead and Luke Gale attended the England Knights and Elite Training Squad for a get-together in Bury last week.
The entire group were told their performances will be monitored closely this year, with the World Cup on the horizon in October.
It is a carrot for every English player and Olbison said: “Have I got ambitions to push into the England Knights set-up? Yes, definitely.
“I want to represent my club and do that well but obviously I’d love to play for my country, without doubt.
“I’ve played for England Academy at Under-18s level but never at the top level.
“I’m not looking at that this year, but I’d like to think in a few years that I can push up there for a spot.
“I’m not getting carried away and I know that I need to play well and perform for Bradford first and foremost.
“If anything else happens then it’s a credit to the boys around me.
“As a squad we’re feeling good this year. All the boys look fresh, strong and fit. Hopefully we can carry it through.”
Olbison, who is in the process of buying his first house, will tonight cross swords with former Bulls skipper Andy Lynch, a player who had a major influence on him during his formative years.
He added: “Lynchy is a great professional and you can’t knock him.
“He’s a good pal of mine and he was very helpful to me when I was coming through the ranks.
“I won’t forget that but obviously I want to beat him tonight.
“We know there will be a backlash from Hull but as a squad we’re healthy and feeling good about ourselves.”