LONG-SERVING Leigh Beattie has been announced as the Bulls' new head of youth development.

He takes over from John Bastian, who left his post at the end of May to head up Hull KR's youth system from next season.

Beattie begins the role with immediate effect and will continue coaching the Academy side in the revamped 2020 structure.

The club has a rich heritage in producing talent through the junior ranks. Jake Trueman and NRL stars such as John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead and George and Tom Burgess all worked under Beattie’s tenure.

His association with the club began over 20 years ago and during this time he has worked in various capacities within the Academy set-up as well as assisting head coaches Geoff Toovey and John Kear at senior level.

“It is a great honour for me. I am immensely proud to have been given the opportunity and I want to keep the momentum going and keep producing players for this club,” said Beattie.

“I am really passionate about youth development. One of my mentors Paul Medley got me into coaching so it is a real honour to do it now.

“There has been a lot of hard work gone into developing young talent at this club over the last few years - producing Championship, Super League and international players - and I want to continue that work.

“I would also like to build better relationships with our community clubs and Bulls Foundation to help promote the game.

“I would like to thank Andrew Chalmers and Russ MacFarlane for giving me the opportunity and for the investment that has allowed the Academy to continue progressing.”

John Kear spoke of his delight at the appointment, saying: “Leigh has been an integral part of the club for many years and has been involved with identifying and developing youngsters on and off the field.

“He has been involved with coaching big names who have gone on to achieve great things and the fact we can keep him and give him extra responsibility is a great thing for the club.

“Leigh is well known in the local area and has his finger on the pulse. He will have some good scouts alongside him and there is already a great academy system in place and he can enhance that.”

Alongside Beattie, the next crop of Bradford Bulls Academy talents to pen professional contracts with the club will be presented to the crowd at half-time during Sunday’s clash with Toronto Wolfpack.