Plenty has been said about the long successful history of the Bradford Bulls, but despite the rollercoaster that has been witnessed over the last decade, the thing that shines out is the wonderful development pathways that continue to produce outstanding rugby league talent.

This week the club had two of its own Oliver Wilson and Rowan Milne, participate in the 27-man England national performance squad. A fantastic step for these young men, as they work their way towards national representative aspirations.

The Bradford Bulls Academy is famous both domestically and internationally for producing some of this country’s biggest stars. Names like Sam Burgess and John Bateman to name a few.

Special congratulations have to go to the Bradford Bulls junior high-performance development team comprising John Bastian, Leigh Beattie, Mark Dunning and Robin Sharpe.

These four toil away at Tong, plotting, planning and weaving into young players, the skills and knowledge needed to become professional rugby league players. They also work hard to develop the right culture, attitude, work ethic and educational goals, needed to ensure these players have the best opportunity to make it to the top of the most demanding collision team sport on the planet.

It’s a definite strength and advantage the Bulls enjoy over many Super League clubs, who haven’t made the same investment in the stars of tomorrow. When you look at what that includes, the name The Bradford Bulls Supporters Trust aka BULLBUILDER shines to the fore. BullBuilder is focussed on attracting, developing and retaining young talent in the Bradford Bulls Academy.

Led by Paul Butterworth, BullBuilder hosts events and raises funds, to help towards funding equipment and services. Just this week the team at BullBuilder where busy fund raising courtesy of the Summer Ball. I want to express on behalf of the Club and our fans how grateful we all are for the work, effort and support you provide to the academy.

This week we also announced the signing of seven young players: Ciaran Dickinson (Headingley Hawks), prop Isaac Coleman (Headingley Hawks), back row Harry Shackleton (Hunslet Warriors), half-back Kieran Brining (West Bowling), Centre or wing Layton Haywood (West Bowling), prop Daniel Edwards (Hunslet Warriors) and back row Daniel McGrath (Brighouse Rangers) join our elite academy ranks. They are undoubtedly future stars destined to wear the red, amber and black.

What has been clear to me since arriving at the club in January 2017, is that the long-term playing success of the Bradford Bulls will evolve around protecting and expanding the junior high-performance pathways.

Many of these players will ultimately transition into the first team. I can tell you from my discussions with our head coach John Kear, that he doesn’t worry about how young a player is, or his inexperience, but making sure that the team has the right balance of experienced players, to ensure the younger ones fit in.

Youthfulness isn’t a barrier, Just look at young Nathan Cleary and Latrell Mitchell playing in front of 90,000 in Melbourne for the NSW Origin team this week. Barely 20 years of age, but products of great development systems allowing them to play in Australian rugby league’s big show the State of Origin. Nathan spent a few years developing and playing in New Zealand whilst his father Ivan Cleary coached the NZ Warriors. Expect a wave of young talent to emerge for the Bulls.

On the field, we welcome back Dalton Grant from suspension and also Joe Keyes and Greg McNally from injury for our round 12 clash against the Crusaders.

We sit two points clear of the chasing pack, with only four points separating the teams from second to eighth.

Bear in mind, this excludes a very good Newcastle team that sits in ninth position.

League One is an unbelievably tough and competitive competition when you think we are almost at the halfway point.

This highlights the fact that we must respect every team we play, because any one of them is capable of producing a result as the Crusaders look to cause an upset against us at Odsal tomorrow.

This week we are without Callum Bustin, George Milton and George Flanagan who are all in the casualty ward at present.

All have been impressive and earned their shirts. But thankfully we have a large competitive squad with plenty of quality players also pushing claims for inclusion in John Kear’s 19 man squad.

Off the field Marwan Koukash is headlining a Q&A session at South Bank, with another special guest boxing WBO European welterweight champion Darren Tetley, fresh from his boxing success at Elland Road. These spaces are almost sold out so better be quick to secure your hospitality package. Call Tracey on 08448711490.

Come and join the stampede as we take on the Crusaders, this Super Saturday at Odsal Stadium. See you there. #jointhestampede