BRANDON Pickersgill is determined to justify the decision by Bulls to give him the number one shirt.

The full back had originally been allocated the 20 jersey for the new season but Gregg McNally's move to Leigh for family reasons has seen a switch.

Bulls were given special dispensation by the RFL for Pickersgill to take on McNally's number one squad figure.

And the 21-year-old is intent on repaying the faith shown in him my coach John Kear.

Pickersgill said: "JK took me in the office and I was buzzing when he told me.

"I worked for it all last year and I’ve moved up in the pecking order when Gregg left unfortunately and that opened the door for me.

"John could easily have gone and got another full back. He has put his faith in me and trusted me, and my aim this year is to repay that faith and keep playing well and make sure he’s made the right decision."

The emergence of Pickersgill was one of the highlights of Bulls' promotion campaign last season. He was named on the League One young player of the year shortlist - being pipped by team-mate Ethan Ryan - and won the club's young player accolade.

But he vowed not to rest on his laurels, saying: "Last year was like a free hit but this year I’ve had to mature because that position is mine.

"There is young (Alix) Stephenson who has come in and played really well in pre-season. "He’s coming for my shirt now, I’m not going for Gregg’s. I really need to step up and make sure each performance is as good as the last one."

Pickersgill played his part in Bulls' thrilling opening-day victory at home to Featherstone.

He came through a tough afternoon well as Rovers tested him with plenty of high balls, while also threatening in attack including one superb run and offload which almost set up a try for Jake Webster.

The full back said: "It was a game of territory and in the end we won the arm wrestle and that’s what got us the two points

"There was not much room returning those kicks from Fev. There were four or five men just whacking me but I think we defended them well.

"Handling was really tough and the ball got wetter as the game went on. It was really slippy but we did well to complete our sets because there were a lot of knock-ons but I think we edged them on completion."

Having made his debut in a 60-4 hammering at Toulouse during 2017 when Bulls were relegated from the Championship, Pickersgill recognises a big difference in where the club are at now on their return to the second tier.

He said: "There's a lot more structure in place and we have a very solid team.

"The good thing is we’ve got players who can fill in, so we know if we’ve got one or two injuries it's not going to upset the camp.

"There are 10/11 players who can get in straight away. That’s a real positive about this year."