sport

Cummins confident over Bulls future

Francis Cummins is hoping Bradford's official team picture will provide confirmation that the worst of the financial crisis is over.

Six weeks ago, coach Cummins was bracing himself for player sales after the Bulls' new management discovered a 400,000 black hole in the club's budget and warned major cutbacks were needed to assure survival.

Bradford chief executive Robbie Hunter-Paul confirmed at the club's pre-season media day on Monday that he had overseen cuts of 15 to 20 per cent to the backroom staff through redundancies and wage reductions to produce a "streamlined" business.

However, with the new season just three weeks away, Cummins' 25-man squad remains intact with the exception of Samoan forward signing Frank Winterstein, who sought and received a release from his contract, and the coach is hoping that is a positive sign.

"The straight answer is 'I don't know'," Cummins said on Monday. "It seems as if it's getting less and less every week we get into this.

"We've had our team photo today and that makes me even more confident.

"But it was day to day, hour to hour. Hopefully the guys behind the scenes can get the business going to make sure we keep them and, in my wildest dreams, you never know, maybe I can start to add to the squad."

Hunter-Paul, who captained the Bulls at the height of their glory years when they dominated Super League and won every domestic honour, admits the club remains vulnerable but insists any changes to the squad will only be made in conjunction with Cummins.

"We could do with taking more out of the budget but you can't force players to leave and there has to be a balancing act because you can't cut away too much," he said.

Bradford sold star forward John Bateman to Wigan in the close season and have parted company with four other regulars but Cummins believes the additions of Garreth Carvell, Luke George, Dale Ferguson, Lee Gaskell and Adam Henry have strengthened his squad overall.

It should be enough to stave off the new threat of relegation but, having undergone a traumatic first season which included coming out of administration, Cummins is loath to make bold predictions.

"Relegation is a concern for anyone," said Cummins, whose side enjoyed a 30-18 win over Hull in their pre-season friendly on Sunday.

"You might say it won't affect the big clubs but for everyone else you never know. I am confident we've got enough talent to make sure we're not worried about relegation.

"The quality of the squad has gone up this year. We haven't got the numbers so we need to prepare better than everybody else and we need to sacrifice more than everybody else to make sure we're in good physical condition to play the game.

"I'm confident in this group. They've shown their steel already with how they've trained and dealt with all that adversity.

"We've a chance to almost beat the system. We are going to have to find a different way because we haven't got a squad of 30 because of administration 18 months ago. We haven't got 20 kids coming through.

"The off-field things have not been great it's not what anyone wants to deal with - but the staff and players have been tremendous.

"The good thing is that we got a performance yesterday and there were some good individual performances, which can only help the business.

"You learn a lot more through the tough times than when it's all plain sailing. I'm just looking forward to a straight run. We've all had a tough time but we'll get there."