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Bradford Bulls: John Bateman contract talks under way
Interim Bulls chief executive Gary Tasker yesterday met with John Bateman ’s agent in a bid to thrash out a new long-term deal for Super League’s best young player.
Bateman’s reputation soared during a season in which he established himself as a first-team regular at Bradford and captained the England Academy side during their two-Test series against Australia.
Tasker has held talks with agent Andy Clarke, who also represents Elliott Whitehead , in a bid to secure the teenager’s future for several more years despite keen interest from several leading Super League clubs.
Tasker told the T&A: “We’re working hard to lock John into the club for the foreseeable future.
“He’s the hottest young property in the sport and the good news is that he wants to be at Bradford.
“That’s not always the case as a starting point in negotiations, but it is with John.
“He wants to be at Bradford and he can see what the club are trying to achieve.
“Therefore we will be looking to get a positive outcome as soon as possible.”
After Francis Cummins was appointed as head coach on Monday, work behind the scenes has started on bolstering the Bulls’ squad and backroom staff.
However, uncertainty still surrounds the Bulls’ future in Super League beyond 2013 after they were awarded only a one-year probationary licence, making long-term planning difficult.
Yet Tasker added: “John’s representative fully understands the position we are in as a club and has acknowledged just what a strong core squad we’ve got.
“Although it’s been well documented that we’ve only got 16 players under contract right now, there is a strong core to that group.
“When I’ve been speaking to agents in recent weeks, you realise that some of those players are the envy of all the big clubs.
“Our job now is to source another ten players or so with a combination of good solid professionals and a couple of outstanding young players who have yet to realise their potential.
“Invariably, players become available on the market who surprise you and that could work to our advantage as our squad is clearly far from being fully in place.
“If we can then tie down three or four of our players who are out of contract we will have a chance of having a really competitive squad for the 2013 season.”
Tasker is set to relinquish his role and depart Odsal after guiding the Bulls through to the end of the season and helping administrator Brendan Guilfoyle to find a buyer for the club.
He is expected to continue assisting the new owners on a consultancy basis.
Meanwhile, Jason Crookes' move to Hull on a three-year deal has finally been confirmed today.
The 22-year-old winger was out of contract at the end of the season and will join likes of Gareth Ellis, Daniel Holdsworth, Ben Galea and Joe Arundel at the KC Stadium.
Crookes said: “The club have brought in some fantastic players for next year and they are really building something special.
“I’ve played with a few of the guys already who have joined the club and I want to be part of it.”