NEW Bulls signing Will Oakes is not daunted by the challenge that lies ahead of him, in the shape of Jorge Taufua and Ben Blackmore.

The trio are the only senior wingers in the Bradford ranks, but the latter two were integral to Lee Greenwood and Brian Noble's side finishing third in the Betfred Championship last season and reaching the play-off semi-finals.

On the contrary, Oakes missed much of York’s 2023 campaign with injury, so faces a real fight on his hands to usurp either of the experienced pair from the starting line-up.

Remarkably, Bulls could play up to 10 games, in friendlies and cups, before the new Championship season gets underway in mid-March, so Oakes should have ample opportunity to shine.

He told the T&A: “Jorge and Ben are great wingers that have really strong attributes, but so do I.

“I will fight to start every week but I always want to improve and I won’t moan if I’m not selected.

“Instead, I’ll work even harder to try and get into the team for the next game.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ben Blackmore was one of the first names on the teamsheet for Bulls last season.Ben Blackmore was one of the first names on the teamsheet for Bulls last season. (Image: Tom Pearson.)

On that long run of games before any league action, Oakes said: “There are a couple of ways you can look at that being a good thing.

“One is that it gives me plenty of opportunity to get back to match fitness and get used to playing again, having had so long out injured.

“It’s also a real chance for me to showcase what I can bring to the side, so the coaches, my teammates and the fans can see what I’m capable of and so they can learn a bit about me as a player.”

Bulls’ season gets underway in just over a fortnight, with a Christmas Eve friendly at home to Halifax.

Oakes said: “I’m fully fit now, injury-wise.

“But being fully fit pre-season wise is a different matter, and I’ve had a bit of time off for holiday, so I’m still working my way back up to where I need to be.

“That being said, I should be fine to play in that first friendly.”

Getting out on the field for Bulls for the first time will give Oakes the chance to, in his eyes, repay the club for what they have done for him in 2023.

Even before he was officially signed in September, the winger had been at Bradford already, undergoing injury rehabilitation with head physio Grace Lennox and her medical team.

Oakes told the T&A: “I really appreciated what Lee Greenwood did for me.

“He was the one who invited me down to the club to work with the physio and the medical team spent a lot of time on me.

“I really appreciated Bulls going to all that trouble and I hope I can repay their faith now.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lee Greenwood saw something in Will Oakes, and backed him throughout his injury rehabilitation.Lee Greenwood saw something in Will Oakes, and backed him throughout his injury rehabilitation. (Image: Tom Pearson.)

Oakes had lengthy spells out injured for York in both 2022 and 2023, but he reflected: “It was tough to begin with, having those setbacks.

“But having some time away from the game made me really have a think about what I wanted and it actually made me hungrier than ever to come back stronger, which was a real positive.”

Oakes is one of just a handful of pre-season signings for Bulls, with most of their 2023 squad going round again next season.

The new winger said: “It’s a settled squad, a good group and they’ve kept those lads who performed well last year and want to do even better in 2024.

“Being in that positive environment is great for me, as it’s kicking me on, so it’s all very exciting.”