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Love is all around for Manase Manuokafoa ahead of Bradford Bulls’ final league game
Manase Manuokafoa is unequivocal.
"Of course I want to stay at the Bulls," said the amiable prop.
"I love the club, I love the area and I love everyone around me."
Tomorrow’s match at Catalan Dragons could be the last in a Bradford jersey for several players, with 17 of Mick Potter’s squad out of contract at the end of the season.
Manuokafoa is among that number but there is no mistaking that staying at Odsal is his preferred choice.
"I backed himself when I came here on a one-year deal," explained the close-season signing from Parramatta Eels.
"I believed I could prove myself in Super League and have loved every minute of my time here.
"I don’t have any other options. Hopefully the Bulls will get sorted as a Super League club because I want to stay.
"But I’m not sure, I’m just not sure, and nothing is decided. I just know I’d love to stay at Bradford."
The giant Tonga international has proved a resounding success at Odsal this season.
He has adapted well to life in England, on and off the pitch, and is settled in Bradford with his wife and stepson.
Manuokafoa is now aiming to end an unforgettable campaign on a high note – with victory at Catalan tomorrow.
The Bulls’ play-offs hopes were dealt a massive blow by last weekend’s defeat to Hull but they could yet sneak into the top eight.
“We were pretty disappointed all round last week as we didn’t want to finish our last home game like that,” said 27-year-old Manuokafoa.
“But we’ve got this week to bounce back in France and we’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve got to win to have any chance of getting into the play-offs and all we can do is look after ourselves.”
Reflecting on the season as a whole, he added: “It was pretty frustrating and disappointing at the start of the year but I think overall my performances have been really good.
“As a team, we’ve had a lot of adversity but we’re going into the final round of the season still in with a chance.
“We would be sixth if we hadn’t had the points deducted – but that’s football and we’ve just got to deal with it and try and win this weekend.
“We’ve spoken about things as a group throughout the year and we can’t let what has happened off the field affect us on it. We said we needed to try and play every game like it’s our last and we have.”
Despite the trauma of administration, being docked six points and constant worries about the future, the Bulls’ squad have never not been paid.
That is is more than can be said for the coaching team, who have been working voluntarily for the past two months.
The gesture is hugely appreciated by the players, as Manuokafoa explained: “Mick (Potter), Franny (Cummins) and Lee (St Hilaire) have done a great job.
“Working for no money shows what kind of men they are but they’re doing a job and all credit goes to them, so hopefully now the new owners are in place the club can move forward.
“They’re local Bradford people (Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe) and we would have been liquidated had they not stepped in.
“It’s been an unbelievable season. I want to finish on a good note and hopefully stay with the Bulls or have other options elsewhere. But my first choice is to stay at Bradford.”