HALF-BACK Jordan Lilley is relishing the stability that his long-term loan with Bulls has given him.

The 22-year-old returned to Odsal last July in a deal from parent club Leeds Rhinos which lasts until the end of the current campaign.

Having got used to being loaned out to other teams during his time at Headingley, Lilley has enjoyed pre-season knowing he will be at Bulls for the duration of 2019.

Read more on Jordan's Lilley take on pre-season

That certainty has helped him flourish, with the former Stanningley junior claiming the sponsors' man of the match award in the opening win over Featherstone.

He said: "I've done pre-seasons in the past at Leeds knowing full well that I wasn’t going to play, which is just a fact of where I was in the pecking order.

"It's good now to have a full pre-season playing games and really pushing for the shirt.

"I’ve had to work hard and got myself in the best condition I can. I’m lifting the most I’ve ever lifted in my career and feel as fit as I’ve been.

"It's good for me knowing where I’m going to be. It’s the worst thing in the world when you train somewhere and you don’t quite know what’s going on – whether you’re going to play or not play.

"Sometimes no matter how well you play in pre-season, it’s not going to get you in the team for the first game of the year.

"I know now that I train hard, work hard and I’ll be rewarded. John (Kear) is a big believer in giving people a chance. If you play well, you’ll stay in that side like Ross Oakes, who was on the bench on Sunday because he’s had a very good pre-season."

Lilley set half-back partner Dane Chisholm up for his try against Featherstone and earned plaudits from Kear.

But he was keen to deflect praise to the Bulls pack for winning the arm wrestle against Rovers in tough conditions.

He said: "I did all right against Featherstone and had some good spells.

"I’m very critical of myself and my performance. I was given man of the match but to me it was the forwards who did the job and set the platform. They put us in position where we do the fancy stuff and get the plaudits.

"I’ve got a lot to work on but there were a few glimpses on Sunday that hopefully I can build on and get the best out of me so I can start playing with that confidence which I set out to get when I came to Bradford on this long-term loan."

On his partnership with Chisholm, Lilley added: "We’re coming together nicely. We’ve only played together once or twice in this pre-season so we are still building combinations.

"There is still Keyesy (Joe Keyes) in there fighting for a spot as well so its healthy competition. We all push each other to work hard in training and we build those combinations with each other and hopefully in two or three weeks’ time it will really click."

The Leeds-born Rhinos Academy product, who has had spells with Featherstone and Hunslet on dual reg as well as a loan period at Leigh, is in his second stint with Bulls.

He made his debut on loan in 2017 when the club were still reeling from the aftermath of going bust before the start of the season.

Lilley admits it feels like a completely different scenario now.

He said: "Since coming here I loved it. It’s not like it was when I was here before when we were on minus 12 and everything was looking down for us. It’s going the opposite way now.

"We’ve got a good squad who work for each other. We do stuff together and that camaraderie shows on the field – just sticking by one another when it gets tough.

"We were under the sticks at 16-16 against Fev and we had to have a reaction. We came together as a group and ended up getting to the other end of the field and then Dane puts the drop goal over.

"It's those kinds of things that build you as a team and stand you in good stead for what’s going to be a tough season in the Championship and I’m sure there are going to be more one-point games moving forward but we are up for the challenge."