JAMES Bentley is backing himself to make the grade at St Helens.

The 20-year-old Bradford Bulls player, who has signed a three-year deal with the Betfred Super League club, admitted: "It was a difficult decision (to leave the Bulls) because I have come through the Academy system here.

"It was an emotional one.

"I want to play at a higher level and would have preferred to have done it with the Bulls, but circumstances meant that it hasn't happened."

Second row Bentley, who can also play loose forward, centre or hooker and has scored an 15 impressive tries in 23 appearances for the Odsal club, feels that he has progressed this season.

He said: "I have toughened up playing against men all the time and am stronger for playing against better players.

"I have improved with catching and passing and now I am expecting to step up for St Helens.

"I know that next level will be difficult but I am expecting to get there."

John Bastian, the Bulls' head of youth, knows that the former Oulton Raiders junior, one of the most consistent performers with the Odsal strugglers, will make strides.

Bastian said: "He'll fit well into the St Helens system. He's high energy, he certainly plays with a lot of enthusiasm. He's got a really good work ethic."

Saints' head coach Justin Holbrook also expects Bentley to make the grade, saying: "James is a quality young player and we are pleased to bring him to the club.

"He's powerful, strong and is consistent in his performances week in, week out.

"He knows he has a lot of improvement in him too and he's looking forward to developing in our system."

Bentley says that his best Bulls moment was making his first-team debut in August last year against Oldham, coming off the bench in an 82-0 Championship Shield victory at Odsal.

"I was so proud," said Tingley-based Bentley, who joined the Bulls aged 15 from Featherstone Rovers and was involved in the pre-season friendly against Castleford Tigers last season, signing a deal for 2017 last July.

And the worst? "Going into administration.

"There weren't sleepless nights, but there was so much uncertainty.

"I just didn't know what was going to happen."