Joe Wardle admits to being more than a little star-struck on his senior debut for the Bulls.

Given his chance as the result of a crippling injury list, the 18-year-old centre mixed elation with disappointment after making his bow during last week’s ill-fated Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Only promoted to the full-time ranks at the start of the year, Wardle did not expect to come into contention at all this season, let alone in a game of such importance.

The result may have put a damper on proceedings but he knows the experience will prove invaluable.

Just looking around the Odsal pitch, Wardle could barely believe his eyes – especially with an Australian legend lining up just inside him.

He said: “The result was really disappointing but it was great to play in such a big game and if we’d got the result we felt we deserved, it would’ve been the perfect debut.

“It’s definitely given me something to aim for. Just having that little taster, I want to get in more and more now. Playing alongside the likes of Beaver (Steve Menzies) is just amazing and I can learn a lot from being out on the field with him.”

A stand-out for the under-20s this season, Wardle has scored a hatful of tries, making tackle busts for fun with a combination of power and pace.

Solid in defence, the Halifax-born star is also an adept goal-kicker and was handed his first-team chance having secured a 22-point haul in the under-20s win against Leeds the previous week.

He said: “Steve (McNamara) let me know the day before I was going to play. He took me into his office and I thought I was going to get a telling off but he just told me that I’d been going well and that it was time for my chance.

“To be honest, at first I was really nervous. I hadn’t expected to play senior level at all this season. I just thought I’d spend the year in the under-20s and look to keep improving and working on my game.”

A loose forward by trade, Wardle’s ascent is all the more remarkable considering he had only played centre once before the start of this season.

“To be honest, I’d only played centre once in my junior career but I’ve really enjoyed it and I feel I can do a job there,” he said.

“I always played at loose forward because I’m a strong defender but I’m really enjoying it at centre and I feel it’s showing some of the better elements in my game.”

If he is given another chance to impress in Sunday’s clash with Huddersfield, the former Illingworth amateur will be much better prepared.

Wardle admits the step up to first-grade comes as something of a shock to the system but is confident he is not out of his depth.

He said: “Even when it was late on in the game, it was so fast and intense. In the 20s you know you’ll be able to make the odd break but it was tough making the step up.

“I didn’t see much of the ball so I just concentrated on making my tackles. I knew if I did my job, the people around me would do theirs as well.

“There’s a lot of great young kids at Bradford and they’re all pushing for a first-team spot. It’s just that some of us have got chances before others due to the injuries. It’s great to be at a club that puts faith in youth.”