Bradford Bulls boss Cummins on ‘sensible’ decision to play just two friendlies (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Bulls boss Francis Cummins on ‘sensible’ decision to have just two pre-season friendlies
Bulls coach Francis Cummins has confirmed that matches against Dewsbury Rams and Leeds Rhinos are set to be the only two pre-season fixtures ahead of the 2013 campaign.
Bradford will play Championship outfit Dewsbury on January 13 followed by another short trip to rivals Leeds in Danny McGuire’s testimonial at Headingley on Sunday, January 20.
Last year’s pre-season schedule saw the Bulls play Castleford in the traditional Boxing Day fixture before further friendlies against Dewsbury and Hull FC.
There was also a scheduled friendly at Featherstone Rovers, which was postponed due to a frozen pitch, and a youthful Bulls side, comprising mainly Under-20s players, faced Keighley at Cougar Park.
The Rugby Football League have decided to scrap the Under-18s Academy and Under-20s Valvoline Cup competitions and replace them with a new Under-19s division.
And with the Bulls’ first-team squad set to be considerably smaller than last term, Cummins is keen to use his players sparingly before the new Super League campaign gets underway in February.
He explained: “Touch wood, we will have a squad of 25 but we can’t be having three or four friendlies, so we will keep them to a minimum.
“We’ve agreed to play Leeds and Dewsbury and that’s probably as many as I want to play.
“Last year we had a bigger first-team squad and an Under-20s side, so you’re probably talking about 50 players there.
“We’ve now just got an Under-19s, and some of them will be featuring in both pre-season games while others won’t be ready.
“Therefore we’ve got to be sensible about how we approach this.”
The traditional Boxing Day fixture has often been played during a cold snap and last season’s outing at Castleford saw Tom Olbison succumb to a shoulder injury which sidelined him for three months.
Cummins added: “I don’t think any club want the Boxing Day fixture.
“With a smaller squad, there is obviously that fear of losing a player to injury.
“We lost Tom Olbison for three months last season and we can’t afford for that to happen again.”