A BIG decision is surely imminent now for Bulls, as they prepare to appoint their new head coach.

A long wait is understandable, with chairman Nigel Wood admitting: “It goes without saying that this is a very important appointment for the club and our selection process needs to be thorough and rigorous.”

But at the same time, Bulls, who are currently eighth, have to be careful not to let the uncertainty hang over them for too long, or else they risk a season of drift.

There have been flashes of excitement under interim boss Mark Dunning, notably a roaring opening 55 minutes in the wins away to Whitehaven and at home to Newcastle and a near-complete performance as they crushed Widnes last Thursday.

But all three sit below Bulls in the table, and as yet, despite those positive signs in the games above, Dunning has yet to get Bradford competing with a top-six side.

James Ford made vociferous complaints about the pitch, but York still comfortably disposed of Bulls 20-6 in Dunning’s first home game four weeks ago.

And Bradford showed just how far off the top they are when they were mauled 58-12 at Featherstone on Monday night, with frustrations evident among the players as they shipped points galore.

As it stands, Bulls have STILL only won once against a team above them in the league this season, having defeated all six of the clubs below them.

Bulls currently sit three points off the top six and end of season play-offs, hardly an insurmountable gap of course, but their displays against teams above them have largely left a lot to be desired.

And if the trip to seventh-placed Sheffield this weekend is to be Dunning’s final audition for the permanent role, he will have to show how far Bulls have come from arguably their nadir so far this season, a ghastly 28-14 home defeat at a muddy Odsal back in February.

Dunning himself has remained coy over his prospects of getting the job permanently, and as a proud Bradford man, only wants what is best for the club.

He said last week: “The club have got to do what they need to. The powers-that-be will decide who they feel is right or wrong for the position.

“If it’s not me, then I have to go and do what I have to. If it’s somebody else that’s better for Bradford Bulls, then so be it. The club is bigger than anyone.

“But right at this moment in time, I don’t really want to think about it.

“I’m just really enjoying working with a group of staff that give as much as these guys do.”

Many fans don’t want to see Dunning take on the role, as they feel his rugby is just an extension of former boss John Kear, who was appointed as head coach of Widnes earlier this week, another side who have a had long spell without a permanent boss in the hotseat.

Dunning insists he is his own man though, telling the T&A just ahead of his first game against Whitehaven: “I’ve got my own means, philosophies and opinions.

“Things will change while I’m in charge, and there’s a necessity for them to.

“The results have not been what were needed lately, but I’m aware we’re in the entertainment business too.

“We’ve got a duty to entertain and get results, and we need to step up now and sort that out.”

But a line that Wood has used in both statements giving updates on the head coach search have made reference to well-known and experienced coaches from around the world.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bulls chairman Nigel Wood has talked of some big-name coaches applying for the role.Bulls chairman Nigel Wood has talked of some big-name coaches applying for the role.

Dunning is a warm, open coach who clearly has the respect of the players and staff at the club.

But though Wood and the club have understandably not named names, it sounds as if there are some high-calibre head coaches willing to throw their hats in the ring, while Dunning is a total novice in the top job.

Certainly when we ran a poll after Kear’s departure, which included Dunning, James Webster, Danny Ward, Paul Anderson and Richard Marshall as five candidates for the permanent position, the results were stark.

Of 614 voters, only two percent of them plumped for Dunning, with Ward the most popular pick on 38 per cent.

It seems unlikely opinion has dramatically shifted following Dunning’s five games since, especially after the Featherstone drubbing.

Whoever comes in, Bulls have to get it right, as they will surely be looking long-term and be wary of a potential restructure from 2024, with ideas such as a 10-team Super League and 10-team Super League 2, no promotion and relegation, and compressed and condensed leagues all mentioned.

Bulls will want to be on the right side of whatever comes their way in a couple of years’ time, and having a strong head coach in place in the lead up to that is likely to be key.

Over seven weeks on from Kear’s departure, Bulls have almost reached their very own D-Day, with the application deadline for the role closing last Sunday.

But who will they pick as their chosen one?