Bulls benefit from Noble changes

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With everything that has happened at Chelsea, memories of Claudio Rainieri's squad rotation have faded. Rugby league, however, has had its own Tinkerman over the past few weeks, and the results have been positive for Brian Noble and his Bradford Bulls.

With everything that has happened at Chelsea, memories of Claudio Rainieri's squad rotation have faded. Rugby league, however, has had its own Tinkerman over the past few weeks, and the results have been positive for Brian Noble and his Bradford Bulls.

Bradford had lost three on the trot before Noble decided something had to be done. Since then, he appears to have found the winning formula, with the Bulls going into today's game at London with convincing wins over Huddersfield and Wigan boosting their confidence.

Noble has changed things by using the same players in different ways. Bradford's problem, since the retirement of James Lowes, has been what to do at hooker and dummy-half. Ryan Hudson would be playing at hooker, were it not for his two-year ban and sacking. In his absence, Noble reverted to "plan one" - playing Robbie Paul in the middle of the front row. It has never been an unqualified success.

Theplan is to move Paul back to his natural scrum-half role, with Paul Deacon at hooker. Not only is Paul, given more space and less defensive responsibility, playing with a smile again, but Deacon is also looking more effective.

As a bonus, Iestyn Harris also seems more comfortable at stand-off. As Noble observed, all three of his half-backs were excellent against Wigan, and there is no reason to believe that he will not persist with the experiment at Griffin Park today.

Less radical but possibly just as significant is the switching of the Bulls' captain, Jamie Peacock, to the front row. It marks a further move away from the traditional Bradford style of play. With Peacock and Brad Meyers in the mix, the days of carrying four specialist props are a thing of the past, the emphasis now being on mobility and flexibility.

London are a side with problems. After showing glimpses of irresistible form early in the season, they have now lost five in a row. Not only has their defence been erratic, but they have also lost much of their attacking sparkle. They do, however, have the Kiwi Thomas Leuluai back from international duty.

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