BRADFORD Bulls have confirmed they will be playing in the RFL's invitational tournament for Championship and League One clubs this autumn.

Many teams have already pulled out, including Keighley Cougars, Sheffield Eagles and Widnes Vikings, but Bulls' chief executive Mark Sawyer and head coach John Kear have been making positive noises about taking part from the start.

So it has come as no surprise that they became the first club to confirm their participation.

Explaining their decision, Sawyer said: "We've always been keen and we'll be informing the RFL officially tomorrow that we're taking part.

"We couldn't confirm until we had all our documents back from the National Health Service (about the necessary testing process being in place) and we had to consult with all the players and staff too.

"We're hoping we'll be able to follow suit at Dewsbury, along with Batley, but we've got to get it all signed off and the testing sorted there.

"But we're a couple of weeks away yet, whereas at Bradford we've been the frontrunners in that regard."

It is understood that the RFL would like at least eight teams to take part in the tournament, which is set to take place in October and November.

Sawyer admitted he was unsure whether that would be the case, saying: "I wouldn't be confident about there being eight teams wanting to play.

"I'm not saying there won't be, but there's probably only nine or 10 teams left. The rest have decided that they're not wanting to take part.

"But for the ones that haven't decided or responded, you'd think that maybe they'd be getting things in place to prepare for the tournament."

Sawyer added: "I have no issues with any club that's not taking part. Every club will look carefully at all the information before deciding whether they can or can't."

The Bulls have signed up for the tournament, which has £250,000 prize money and has come about after the Championship and League One seasons were scrapped, in the hope that fans can attend.

That is not guaranteed, with pilot events with spectators at the Crucible and Goodwood cancelled at the weekend and local lockdowns currently in place in Bradford and Kirklees.

Addressing that, Sawyer said: "It would be of interest to have the fans going back. It would be very difficult (to stage the tournament) if not, but we're aware of how difficult it is at the moment.

"But rather than looking at having no fans as a deal-breaker, we've just got to see what the RFL come up with for a tournament, then review the situation and see if we have a suitable number of entrants. The closing date for entries isn't until August 14.

"Hopefully there'll be pool matches then a final as a bare minimum. We just want to go out there and entertain the fans and now we've entered, we're just hopeful it can take place."

Praising the collective effort at the Bulls over the last few weeks, Sawyer said: "Everyone has been brilliant and everybody has been positive about taking part in the camp, whether that's the players, staff or those on the sideline.

"The most important thing for us now is player, staff and crowd safety and we must ensure that going forward."