Super League: Bradford Bulls v Wakefield Wildcats preview
By Jonathan Doidge. Last Updated: 30/05/14 8:29pm
Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins has been boosted by the return of five experienced players ahead of Sunday's vital relegation clash with Wakefield.
A win for the Bulls would give them much-needed impetus going into the second-half of the First:Utility Super League campaign and to that end, Cummins is delighted to be able to recall skipper Matt Diskin, second-row Dale Ferguson, centre Matty Blythe and front-rowers Jamal Fakir and Chev Walker.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the visit of the Wildcats, the Bradford coach admitted: "We are excited about it. I've said it before and I will repeat, the result of this fixture is not going to determine where we finish in the league, but will contribute to it. We have got to focus on playing this one game just like we do every week."
The return of the five seasoned pros means that there are no places for Nathan Conroy, Alex Mellor, Jordan Baldwinson, Adam O'Brien or Joe Arundel, who were all in the squad when the Bulls were hammered 46-4 against the Dragons last week.
After notable home wins against Catalan in the Challenge Cup and then Warrington a week later in Super League, Bradford have conceded an average of 50-points in each of their last three games.
The Bulls can draw some confidence from their performance against Sunday's opponents away from home back in March, when Adrian Purtell was among the tryscorers and a late Luke Gale drop goal helped seal a 23-10 win.
Added to that, the Wildcats have not won at The Provident Stadium in seven attempts, their last success there being in September 2006.
Wakefield coach Richard Agar has recalled Chris Riley after the winger had to sit out the defeat to his parent club Warrington last week under a gentleman's agreement, while Daniel Smith is also back in the fold after playing for Featherstone under the dual registration system last week.
Along with Lee Gilmour, who joined the club in midweek on loan from Castleford for a month, the trio replace Max Jowitt and Chris Annakin (both suspended) and Jacob Fairbank (broken ankle).
Considering they have longer-term absentees of the calibre of Dean Collis, Taulima Tautai and Ali Lauiti'iti, Wakefield's task will not be easy. They currently stand eight points ahead of the Bulls, but the astute Cummins looks to have called it right in that this result will not decide the fate of Bradford.
With the verdict due next week on the home team's appeal against their six-point deduction for going into administration earlier in the year, their biggest battle for survival may again be off, and not on, the field of play.
Bradford Bulls: Addy, Blythe, Diskin, Donaldson, Fakir, Ferguson, Foster, Gale, Gaskell, George, Henry, Kaufusi, Kear, Manuokafoa, Olbison, Pitts, Purtell, Sidlow, Walker.
Wakefield Wildcats: Mathers, Sykes, Godinet, Anderson, McShane, Kirmond, Washbrook, Wildie, Ryan, Moore, Sammut, Walshaw, Smith, Molloy, Siejka, Scruton, Riley, Owen, Gilmour.