SAM Barlow must be the unluckiest player at the Bulls, admits John Kear.

The forward is desperate to get his career back on track after being banned for the last four years.

But he broke his arm in pre-season – and now the rugby season has been suspended in the fight against the coronavirus.

Kear said: “Sam thinks he has run a black cat over. He served his ban and then he came back and got injured.

“He missed six weeks and then when he’s finally ready to play, this situation happens.”

Barlow was making such good progress from the injury he suffered against Dewsbury in January that he nearly came into consideration for last week’s Challenge Cup tie at Wakefield.

He would have been in the squad for the trip to Swinton tomorrow that has been put on hold after the RFL shut down the season until at least April 3.

“Wakefield probably came two or three days too soon for Sam,” added Kear. “If the game had been on Sunday, I think he could have played.

“It was that close but I didn’t think it worth risking him just for the sake of those 72 hours.

“He’s ahead of schedule and has looked after himself really well.

“He was that near but we just felt it was pushing him that little bit too much to do it. But the plan was obviously for him to play against Swinton.”

Barlow saw the move to Bradford as a chance to put his chequered past behind him after his lengthy absence from the game.

The former Scottish international was banned for disrupting a drugs test while playing for Leigh. He also assaulted an official from the UK Anti-Doping Agency.

That suspension ended in November and, after doing some pre-season training with Halifax, Barlow signed a one-year deal with the Bulls the following month.

But the 31-year-old’s hopes of breaking into the team for the start of the Championship campaign were dashed when he got the injury in the Dewsbury friendly just a fortnight before the opening game.

He had been making great progress to return when the shutdown was announced.

Kear said: “He’s kept up with the rehab and people will be surprised when they see him because he’s trimmed down a little. It was good work by the conditioner that he's looking in great shape.

“Sam’s really annoyed, especially as he’d trained so hard and shed some weight to come back. But obviously there is a much bigger picture to take into account.”