BULLS' Academy has been rated in the "requires improvement" category after being independently assessed – but mitigating factors in light of the club's financial problems were taken into consideration in what was a positive report.

A total of 13 junior development programmes were looked at for quality of leadership and management, how well they met the needs of players and the delivery of the player development system.

Eight, including Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants, were rated as outstanding – three more than last year – three were categorised as good, and two (the other was Wakefield Trinity) "required improvement".

The report stated: "After a difficult period at the club, improvements have already begun, and the new owners have stabilised and initiated the re-building process, with confidence within the club becoming apparent.

"Staffing structures within departments are improving, player recruitment within the Academy has quickly been addressed after many players left during administration, and the culture and environment has remained strong throughout.

"The primary objective will remain the same – good people progressing their talent at Bradford Bulls."

Leeds, St Helens, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan have retained their outstanding status from last year, and have been joined by Catalans, City of Hull and the Giants.

Bulls remain rightly proud of their record of developing homegrown talent over the years, with James Bentley being the latest youngster set for Super League having been signed by St Helens for next season.

The Academy has played an important role this year as numerous players have stepped up to first-team level.

Head of youth John Bastian said: "As an academy we are progressing really well and we have come through some tough times. We have things in place that will benefit the club further down the line and set us back onto the right track.”

Meanwhile, Bulls are hoping to have reinforcements for Sunday's Kingstone Press Championship Shield match against Sheffield Eagles.

Bulls head coach Geoff Toovey said of the clash at Belle Vue: "It looks like Ethan Ryan will be back, Johnny Campbell will be back, and possibly Jon Magrin as well."

Ryan has recovered from the broken jaw he suffered against Hull KR in July, while fellow winger Campbell has had an elbow problem and prop or loose forward Magrin an ankle injury.