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Craig Kopczak still believes after Bradford Bulls are hit for six
It is an intriguing prospect. If the Bulls can replicate the kind of form they have shown in recent weeks, what’s to stop them overhauling their six-point penalty and securing a top-eight finish?
Mick Potter’s men were hit with the punishment for entering administration yesterday and now lie in ninth, two points adrift of Hull KR in the final play-off spot.
With the Robins due at Odsal next month, and the Bulls also facing Huddersfield and Hull FC in the coming weeks, a positive sequence of results could yet see them achieve a play-off place for the first time in four years.
“We’re aware of that as a team,” said Bulls prop Craig Kopczak as he closes in on a first-team return.
“Everyone’s still fighting for a play-off spot – you saw that in the Hull derby the other night.
“Hopefully if we can sneak a few more wins from our remaining games then we can make the play-offs – despite the points penalty. If potential investors can see that we could make the top eight then things could start falling into place off the field as well.”
I’ve not set a date because I don’t want to be going out there if I’m not 100 per centCraig Kopczak
The Bulls have endured truly rotten luck on the injury front this season, with Kopczak among the absentees.
He sustained a badly broken finger against Warrington in March which ruled him out for five matches and then cruelty struck again.
During the Magic Weekend encounter against Leeds Rhinos in May, Kopczak picked up an ankle injury in his first carry of the game.
“It was a bit of a freakish game as we lost five players that day,” recalled the 25-year-old Wales international.
“I was disappointed at the time and you could probably see it in my face when the camera panned on me.”
But timing is all and, as Elliot Kear and Jason Crookes have returned to full fitness after long spells on the sidelines, Kopczak should soon be ready to join them.
He explained: “At the moment I’m just getting into full training and then I can hopefully get the go-ahead from the specialist to step things up even further.
“I’ve not set a date as yet because I don’t want to be going out there if I’m not 100 per cent.
“I also need to try and force my way back in because everyone’s playing really well.
“It’s frustrating not to be out there because last season I think I missed just one game at the back end of the year. This year I’ve been hit by two injuries but it’s just of those things that happens in sport.”
What Kopczak certainly did not see coming was the financial meltdown which has left the Bulls fighting for their very existence.
“It’s been unbelievable really and we’ve been kept in the dark a lot of the time,” he said.
“My wife has been really supportive while I’ve been out injured and we’ve just been waiting really, that’s all we can do.
“It’s just about making sure that you get paid so that you can pay the bills.
“That’s been the main worry, to make sure I can put food on the table. I’ve got a young family and there is uncertainty.
“Something might happen by the end of this week, it might not, but hopefully there will be a positive development.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away and doing our jobs, which is to play rugby league. Whatever happens off the field will happen.”
Kopczak, whose reputation soared after some excellent displays for Wales during the Gillette Four Nations last autumn, is contracted to his hometown club until the end of next year.
If the Bulls do go into liquidation, he would not be short of suitors.
“I’ve obviously got to see what the outcome is but the Bulls are my priority,” he said.
“I’m a Bradford lad but we’ve just got to see what happens this week.
“There are a lot of Bradford products coming through the ranks at Odsal and it would be sad to lose all that if the club does go out of business.
“The club has been getting stronger and stronger, so hopefully investors out there can see that and take it on board.”