THE period of trench warfare at Odsal is over.

Andrew Chalmers feels now is the time to finally clamber over the parapet and join the advance party looking to retake some of that lost ground.

For the joint-owner of a club about to make unwanted history with a first appearance in third-level rugby, the New Zealander has a glint in his eye.

But then, having negotiated 12 turbulent months at the Bulls helm, he is entitled to savour the air of long-overdue optimism now inhabiting the place.

The coup of landing John Kear in a winter of solid recruitment has given even the most hard-bitten Bulls critic something to cling to.

Chalmers said: "I don't think of the last year as a tunnel. It was more like a trench – it was about survival.

"We had to get past that and focus on rebuilding all the positive elements that make this club unique.

"Having someone like John as coach is fantastic because he gets it. He sees the future, the direction and the strategies to develop the players to get back to where we should be."

The final obstacle was the settlement with current and former staff over historic debts from the previous company. That avoided a potentially uncomfortable employment tribunal which would have happened this week.

Chalmers, who had fought it from the start, said: "I was always very confident that there was no exposure to the club. But it's always an uncertain thing when you're talking about legal proceedings.

"It's been an unwelcome distraction which has contributed to a poor performance on the field in 2017. We're very pleased to be able to finally close that matter fully.

"You want to give the players the best opportunities to compete. That means removing as many of the distractions off the field as possible.

"Getting past this last issue was a major milestone and now we're looking forward to this year.

"I'm a pretty tolerant person and we just keep working hard as a club and as a group.

"We're rebuilding trust and confidence. We're not reaching too far and having unrealistic expectations.

"It's a fair call to say that might have been the case in the past."

The Bulls will compete on a level playing field without the 12-point deduction that Chalmers still blames for their relegation from the Championship.

They have also had the luxury of being able to rebuild the squad to their own requirements and with a full pre-season to prepare.

Chalmers said: "The fans want to see a quality side out on the field with players who want to be here. We've had a big turnover of players from last year.

"We didn't get the opportunity to go to the market and compete and choose who wanted to be here at the beginning of 2017.

"The difference then was we inherited a set of players. Those that could have got clubs, to be fair, would have got clubs.

"That really made it difficult. We had to go to the loan market because players were tied up.

"Your choices were really restricted. Whereas this year we went out early and started stitching together a side based on players we feel could develop.

"We don't have the steep penalties imposed on us. The relegation came because of those penalties – because of the sins of others.

"We copped it, carried on and put one foot in front of the other.

"Now we're confident in our strategies, confident in the people who are delivering them. We're really excited in the production line of players that we have.

"But the club didn't fall overnight. It's not going to get back in one or two steps. You've got to build momentum and that's certainly what will be with John."

The proof will be on display three weeks tomorrow when the curtain lifts on the new campaign at York's Bootham Crescent. At that point we will see how the Bulls cope with the rugby league equivalent of Ground Zero.

Chalmers smiled: "We don't have to wait long to see what this side looks like in 26 rounds of League One. We've got to be hard at it from the word go.

"We've got 30 signed into our first-team roster. Never say never on one more but we're doing very nicely.

"There was a view that we were short of outside backs. But you've got Ethan Ryan, who can play full back or on the wing, Dalton Grant on the other wing, Gregg McNally a specialist full back, Alex Brown as well and the young ones Josh Rickett and Brandon Pickersgill.

"They can all play in multiple positions, which gives us those options."