LEE Smith is happy to put his toughest year in rugby behind him as the Bulls aim to put themselves back on the map in 2018.

The new captain cannot wait to get stuck in to the task of winning instant promotion from League One with John Kear's side.

Smith is keen to make up for lost time after a season of injury woes off the field and relegation on it.

The former England international missed five months with a knee injury and the club's spiral out of the Championship made it even harder to watch.

"It was a tough old year and a frustrating one personally because I was injured for a lot of it," said Smith.

"I've been pretty lucky because I've been at some top clubs in their divisions, obviously at Leeds and Leigh, so it was very difficult.

"But it was tough for everybody. There are no excuses because ultimately we got relegated as we weren't good enough to turn those 12 points around.

"It's sad but we've just got to get on with it now. We're in a division below, which isn't great, but from that we are a lot more settled as a squad.

"We've got our head coach now in place, which is brilliant, we've got a physio, conditioner – there are good times ahead and I'm really looking forward to the season."

Smith, who chose to stick with the Bulls despite interest from elsewhere, is the most experienced head in the 'hybrid' squad of full and part-time players.

Yet he is under no illusions that his place will be nailed down in Kear's team.

He said: "I'm fortunate enough that I can play in a few positions. Wherever John sees me playing, I'll be happy to do it.

"But my performances have got to be good enough to get in the team. That's what I pride myself on.

"I'm proud and privileged to be captain but I've got to make sure my performances are right. If I'm not doing it on the field, then I won't get picked.

"Hopefully I'll be playing well enough and the team will be playing well. Then everything will be hunky dory.

"Leigh (Beattie) has done a fantastic job with the under-19s. Some of the lads that are coming up are really good players.

"I'm looking forward to playing with them. We've got some building blocks in place that will be there further ahead and I think that's important."