BULLS skipper Steve Crossley has given his thoughts on two of his fellow props, who have undergone contrasting fortunes at the start of 2021.

While Anthony Walker has returned to the fray after over three years out following the discovery of a rare brain condition, veteran Anthony England has sadly been forced to retire through injury.

England is a player Crossley knows well, and paying tribute, he said: “I played with Ant at Dewsbury and Featherstone too, and he was solid on the field and a good bloke off it.

“It’ll be upsetting for him to hang up his boots, and this won’t have been the two years he wanted here.

“It’s not right because he should be getting a proper send off in front of the fans, but he knows his body has had enough, so he’s done the right thing.

“He was great to play with, a real pro, and the sort you wanted there with you in the trenches.”

But it is now Walker vying to play alongside Crossley, with the skipper saying: “Ant’s done really well given he’s been out for so long with that serious condition.

“He’s settled in well here, but it’s a test, as things might seem new to him after his time out.

“That’s obviously had a little effect but he’ll soon be back up to match fitness, and we’ve already seen one of his big strengths is how he plays with the ball in his hands.”

Around a fortnight ago, the professional North American Rugby League was launched.

A familiar name will be among the 14 teams there, in Crossley’s old side Toronto Wolfpack, who were booted out of the British game last year.

The Bulls skipper has always backed the Canadian outfit, and he said: “I’m happy to see them back playing and on their feet again.

“We were getting crowds of around 8,000 when I played there, which is more than most British teams, so I know how big it is over there and how it’s really taking off.

“North America loves its contact sports and it’s good because we want to see the sport getting bigger, and not just be popular in England, Australia and New Zealand.”

Asked if he’d like to see Toronto back playing Super League or Championship rugby again one day, Crossley mused: “I loved it when they were over here.

“But if the NARL blows up like I know it can, then having a league out there for teams like Toronto would be even better because we want more countries involved.

“We’ve been battling for expansion for a while and if it can take off and get players from the NRL and Super League soon, it will get bigger and better, as well as making sure it helps the national teams of Canada and the USA.”