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Hot Bradford Bulls prospect Curtis Naughton gambles on move to NRL
Curtis Naughton has set his sights on a career in the NRL after quitting the Bulls despite having two years left on his contract.
The highly-rated full back is moving to Australia with his mother and said that up to six NRL clubs had shown an interest in snapping him up.
Naughton progressed through the junior ranks at Bradford and made an impressive Super League debut during the final-day home win over Huddersfield.
But he has since resigned from the club and will fly out to Australia on October 13, although the Bulls will retain his contract should he wish to return to Super League in the next two years.
Naughton, who was handed a three-year full-time professional deal 12 months ago, admits he is taking a gamble by moving Down Under.
The 18-year-old from Dewsbury said: “My mum started talking about emigrating to Australia halfway through the season and I thought she was joking at first, but then she put the house up for sale.
“I started to think about where I would live if I stayed here and it put me under a lot of stress, which affected my rugby midway through the season.
“I made the decision at the back end of the season to move to Australia with her because we are very close and she has raised me on her own really.
"I spoke to Franny (Cummins) and we agreed that it was best for me to go because I can’t afford to live here on my own and the Bulls told me I wasn’t worth any more money than what I was on.
“It was a bit gutting because I’ve spent a large part of my life at Bradford, coming through the scholarship and academy and showed a lot of loyalty to the club.
A Super League contract is a big thing to give up but I’ll be giving it my all to make it in Australia and that’s all anyone can ever ask of you.”
Naughton’s mother will be based in Canberra but he may live in Sydney or on the Gold Coast depending on which club he secures a contract with.
The former Shaw Cross amateur explained: “I’ve got an Australian agent and he’s sent videos of me playing for the Academy and in the Super League game against Huddersfield to several NRL clubs.
“There are quite a few teams who want to make me an offer, and they have already offered accommodation, so I’ll go out there and hopefully get a club sorted within a couple of weeks.
“It’s upsetting in one sense because I’m leaving behind a lot of my friends and family – my girlfriend, dad, elder brother and especially my nan – but I’m sure I’ll find new mates and that my family will come and visit me.”
Bulls coach Francis Cummins admitted he was unwilling to sanction a pay rise that may have kept the teenager at the club.
Cummins said: “We have a defined pay structure in place whereby players get paid what we feel they are worth.
“But I wish Curtis nothing but the best and I hope he makes the grade in Australia.”
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