SIX Bradford Bulls academy prospects have signed first-team deals for next season.

James Bentley, Liam Kirk, Ross Oakes, Brandon Pickersgill, Josh Rickett and Brandan Wilkinson have penned professional contracts.

The group, who have all come through the Odsal youth system, will join up with Rohan Smith's senior squad at the end of the current campaign, following in the footsteps of last year's graduates Ethan Ryan and Joe Lumb.

Pickersgill, Bentley and Kirk featured in the pre-season friendly against Castleford Tigers in January, which saw Kirk cross the whitewash in a win.

Oakes has featured twice in the first team in victories against Dewsbury Rams and Workington Town. He said: "I've supported Bradford since I was three when I used to come to the games with my grandma and granddad and I've had a season ticket ever since. It's a dream come true."

Kirk added: "Pre-season will be a great opportunity to show everyone what we can do. As long as we work hard and keep working hard in training, we might get a chance in the first team."

Rickett is another who has been a Bulls fan all his life. He said: "Playing for the team you support was always something I have wanted to do and it is great experience and hopefully we'll all kick on."

Academy coach Leigh Beattie has been delighted with the progress of the youngsters and insists there are more to follow.

"It is a long and tough journey for them from the under-16s to under-19s and now to the first team," he said.

"These lads have worked extremely hard to get where they are now and deserve everything they've got.

"There is another crop of lads coming up, plus another lot after that, so at the minute the youth system is looking really good."

Head of youth John Bastian believes the club are going back to the tradition of developing their own players through the ranks.

"Bradford Bulls have got a huge history of producing young players who have been developed in the club and that process has started to rebuild again," he said.

"The more players we get through to our first-grade squad, the better for Bradford Bulls and the better for rugby league."