Bulls captain Matt Diskin will be fit for the start of the season and believes his side will be a force to be reckoned with provided no more players depart.

The former Leeds hooker is currently working his way back towards full fitness after an end-of-season operation on both his feet.

He will miss Sunday’s opening pre-season friendly against Hull FC but has no fears over his availability for the Super League opener at home to Castleford on February 16.

“I’ll be fine for the start of the year,” said 31-year-old Diskin.

“I had nerves removed out of both feet and it was a relatively simple operation. It takes time to heal but everything is progressing well.

“The problem was there for maybe 12 to 18 months and it’s not nice having pain come through your feet.

“But you deal with it and grit your teeth as most sportsmen do and we’ve got it sorted now, so I’m looking forward to the new season.

“You want to be out there playing in the friendlies but everything is geared up for the start of the year because that’s when the time to be ready is.

“I’m not far off being ready, so it’s up to Franny (Francis Cummins) how and when he wants to use me.

“But we’ve got two very talented young hookers in Adam O’Brien and Nathan Conroy and they have the chance to lay down a marker in these pre-season friendlies.”

Bulls coach Cummins this week spoke of his hope that he will not be forced to offload any more of his players before the big kick-off next month.

Frank Winterstein’s contract was cancelled by mutual consent but Cummins’ squad has remained otherwise intact.

Diskin said: “We keep talking about the financial predicament but there are a lot of positives too.

“We’ve managed to keep the squad together at the moment and if we keep it that way then we’re going to be very competitive.

“Numbers-wise, we’re maybe not too different to last year but I think we’ve got a bit more depth in positions where we struggled last season.

“You look at the front row and you look at the halves and there is real competition for places.

“That’s raising the bar and is reflected in training because, even though we’re all friends and tight as a group, you are competing with the man beside you in training because you want to be the first name on the teamsheet.

“There’s a real excitement this week because there is a game at the end of it. Rather than running the hills at Shibden, the boys get the chance to put their bodies on the line against Hull.”