Bradford invest in bull market

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The Independent Online
Rugby league

DAVE HADFIELD

Bradford Northern, one of the most famous clubs in the game, are to enter the Super League era in bullish mood with a new name and a new coach.

The club, which has carried the Northern title since 1907, announced yesterday that they are now to be known as the Bradford Bulls. Their new coach will be one of the most sought-after in the world - Brian Smith, who starts a two-year contract when his commitments with the Sydney side St George end in September.

The acquisition of Smith is a coup. He turned Hull into a formidable force and, since returning to his native Australia, has led St George to two Grand Finals. "He is one of the top three coaches in the world," the Bradford chairman, Chris Caisley, said.

Smith, speaking from Brisbane, said: "I was very impressed when Chris came all the way out here to see me. I'm very excited by the plans of the Bradford board to adapt to the changing face of rugby league."

Unlikely as it might sound in view of the recent disturbances on Bradford's streets, part of Smith's motivation in returning to England is to escape strife in Sydney. He said the split in the game there created by Rupert Murdoch's Super League had contributed to his decision. "There are a lot of friendships that have gone, and irreparable damage has been done to the sport in Australia," he said.

Smith will be joining a club intent on updating itself in line with the Super League revolution. Caisley said the club was determined to shed its image, "not one we have deserved", as unfashionable and boring.

That would explain the rejection of the beast which has traditionally adorned their shirts - the Bradford Boars has an unfortunate ring to it. The signing of Smith is the first demonstration that their revamp is not mere bull.

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