THE phone calls these days are dominated by rugby again not finance.

John Kear can finally sense some firmer ground beneath his feet as the Bulls concentrate on matters on the pitch rather than off it.

There will be an extra spring in the vastly-experienced coach’s step when the Championship begins again this weekend with a tasty opener against London Broncos.

It’s not just the calibre of the opposition for such a grand beginning to their temporary life at Dewsbury’s Tetley’s Stadium.

It also means that all thoughts can turn to the proper job of playing rugby after an off-season that has tested everyone connected with the club.

“It will be nice just to get a team out there and be playing for two points,” admitted Kear. “It clarifies and focuses everything.”

The winter takeover after the upheaval surrounding Andrew Chalmers’ exit and the mountain of debts left behind has been the dominant conversation with the Bulls.

But with Mark Sawyer and the new owners in place, Kear is looking forward with confidence – and not waiting for his mobile to ring with disgruntled staff members wondering when their wages will drop.

“People like those who film the games and our performance analysts were forever ringing me up last year saying that they hadn’t been paid or were owed money for this and that.

“Now they put their invoices in mid-January and bang it was paid. It just makes everything so much easier.

“It was very tough in October, November but it’s been absolutely first class since and a pleasure to be in and around the playing group and the club.”

Kear’s concerns were eased before Christmas when the new leadership got their feet under the table.

“That was when I saw the new owners were being very honourable people,” he said.

“Although I wasn’t too enamoured by playing Hunslet and York, I admired the stance that the owners took on it.

“It’s been a difficult few years for the Bradford fans but I truly believe there is some hope and honesty going forward.

“That will allow the club to grow and develop as it should be. I’m pretty optimistic.

“I see things going on behind the scenes as well, planning and preparing for the rest of this year and the next one. You feel like there’s a firm concrete base now not shifting sands.

“It’s the same with the players. You’ve seen how they’ve applied themselves.

“We have got a skinny squad. But they all know where they are and what’s required of them.

“Yes, it’s been a tough off-season at times but it’s been an off-season where we’ve had far, far, far more positives than negatives.”

The Bulls missed out on the play-offs by a point last year but Kear maintains that was some achievement considering all the turmoil unfolding behind the scenes.

“I don’t buy into this saying that there’s no distractions. Life’s full of them.

“But the situation last year was a pretty hefty distraction.

“I’ve nothing but the greatest admiration and respect for those players we had.

“To have the season we did results-wise with the distractions we had was fantastic.

“You can hang your hat on any excuse but not once did they do that.

“I’ve analysed the results from last year and there were only two shellackings, one at Leigh and the other against Featherstone. We were more than competitive in every other game.

“They did fantastically well and if we apply ourselves as well this year, I think we’re going to have a very good season.”

The Bulls must conquer Dewsbury’s dimensions to enjoy home advantage as they adapt to life without Odsal. The landlords have laid out the welcome mat – and last week’s bruising friendly with York was a timely dress rehearsal before the Broncos roll up.

Kear added: “The conditions were challenging, very heavy under foot, it was windy and rainy and we were playing a pretty good team.

“Yes, we can talk about the narrow pitch but you’ve still to put your body on the line and work within your structure and system to have a good defensive effort.

“My word, they did that and the challenge now is to repeat it on a consistent basis.

“The officials and players and staff of Dewsbury have been absolutely fantastic.

“There’s been none of this, ‘you keep out, this is ours’, they’ve been totally open and honest with us.

“They’ve made us feel at home as much as you possibly can in the circumstances that we’re in.”

With no Toronto Wolfpack, or Rochdale Hornets cut miles adrift, it looks a far more balanced competition.

Kear said: “It made for a strange points distribution last year. But I think Oldham and Whitehaven will pick up more wins than Rochdale and there won’t be a runaway top team who only lose one game.

“You’ve got to think that we’ll all be knocking each other off at some stage.”