MARK Dunning calls it the “best-kept secret in rugby league” but the time for a big reveal must be close.

CEO Jason Hirst has announced that a decision is “imminent” on the identity of the next Bulls coach. But nobody, outside of the club hierarchy, are any the wiser of who that might be.

When asked in the aftermath of yesterday’s battering by Leigh, Dunning admitted he was not even sure if he would be taking the team at Newcastle on Friday.

The 50-point humbling by a Leigh team head and shoulders above the rest of the Championship was not down to any uncertainty in the changing room from the not knowing about what happens next.

But there is a risk it will become an increasing factor in diverting the focus for a play-off chase if the club’s long-term plans are not made clear pretty soon.

“I don’t think it has done yet but there is a danger of it,” admitted interim coach Dunning.

“What’s now creeping in is players hearing whispers and rumours about who’s potentially in for the job, who’s been offered the job and might be.

“It’s all hearsay because I’d go as far to say that this is the best-kept secret in rugby league.

“It’s not created a distraction yet. But with anything, where there’s uncertainty people start to create rumours rather than let the process unfold.

“I think that’s started away from the playing group and the club.

“I’ve done my best to pour cold water on some of them and answer whatever questions the players have got. But when I haven’t got the information to be able to, then it can be difficult.”

Dunning was interviewed by Hirst and Nigel Wood for the post last month – the only name that has been publicly confirmed on their shortlist.

In charge for the last eight games since John Kear’s departure, he has conducted himself with dignity. He has tried to steer away from the coach talk however hard that has become.

“I wasn’t aware Jason had said there was an imminent announcement coming.

“I try my best not to read rumours and the press and just go about my daily job and keep those blokes upbeat and ticking over.

“We’ve managed to do that so far. If this was my last game, then so be it.

“The staff and the players have been nothing short of outstanding for me.”

Leigh’s 10-try demolition was a reminder of the huge gap that exists between the summit of the division and the rest.

Reports last week of the spending power of the top two – splashing out three times more than the Bulls – underlined the disparity which is clear to see on the pitch.

However painfully one-sided to witness, Bradford were just the latest side to suffer.

Dunning added: “There have been a few ‘nil-ings’ and heavier concessions than we’ve had.

“Does that make it right for the Bradford Bulls to be on the back end of a result like that? No, it doesn’t.

“But it tells everybody where Leigh Centurions are at and I take my cap off to them.

“Sometimes you’ve got to say they are by far the best team in this league.

“But this club has got to have the ambition to compete with people like that. It’s got to have a genuine road map of how that’s going to happen.

“Once the club make the decision on who is coming in or getting the job, if it’s not me I hope and pray that they can soon be challenging teams like that because I’ll always be a Bradfordian.”

The Bulls conceded 58 points against Fev last month as well and Dunning knows it is a tough watch for fans who grew up watching the glory days under Brian Noble at the turn of the century when it was their side regularly dishing out the drubbings.

“I don’t think we should ever accept it. But we should be realistic.

“This club is not in the place it was 20 years ago.

“Leigh look like a Bradford team of old when you look at the size and the strength and the power they’ve got throughout the side.

“When you look back to the glory days of this club, they look like that now.

“I think the spectators have got every right to want this club to get back there.

“Believe you me, everybody involved in this club, whether it’s staff, coaches, players, all want to be back there.

“It’s going to take time. The owners have come in and stabilised what was a rocky boat.

“The next step now is to move on and get back to challenging people like Leigh Centurions and Featherstone Rovers.

“That takes an awful lot of money. But yeah, there are some improvements to be made.

“Some players are out of contract and have got wives and children. They need some clarity on where they and the club are going.

“Once you start doing that with your retention and recruitment and start putting things in place, you can start at how the successful person that’s coming in builds this club slowly and sustainably.

“But we’ve got to be going in the right direction every time.”