Bulls see life after Henry

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The Independent Online

Robbie Paul, the Bradford Bulls captain, insists the Super League leaders can overcome the loss of brother Henry to rugby union. The former Wigan goalkicking stand-off ended the guessing game over his future by telling the Bulls of his decision to reject a new contract offer in favour of a cross-code move to Gloucester at the end of the season.

The West Country club will unveil the 27-year-old early next week, but Bradford broke the news yesterday in a terse statement that failed to disguise their obvious disgust, after having their hopes raised by the player's agent.

Paul, who is eligible to play for England through an English grandfather, has agreed a four-year deal with the Zurich Premiership club, part-funded by the RFU, thought to be worth £200,000 a year.

After nine glorious seasons in British rugby league with Wakefield, Wigan and Bradford, Paul will follow in the footsteps of Jason Robinson by plying his trade in the 15-man game in which he dabbled briefly five years ago.

"From the point of view of a player and captain, it's pretty disappointing," admitted Robbie. "It's good to have one of the best players in the world on your side. But we've got a good squad. We were a good team before Henry came and we'll be a good team when he leaves.

"As a brother, I wish him all the best. I know he has made the right decision for himself. He's not a young fella any more. He's looking at the back end of his career."

The Pauls will return from international duty to the Bradford team for the visit of Leeds to Valley Parade today, and Robbie is confident his brother will not be subjected to a hostile reception from the Bulls fans.

"The supporters have always been positive for both myself and my brother," he said. "They want success at the end of the year and Henry can play a huge part in the race to the Grand Final.

"I think they will react well because they've always been positive towards all the other players who have left us in the past. This will probably be his swansong in rugby league and he'll get the support internally.

"It's important that we get on with the job. What he does next year is his business. We have to focus on the job in hand. We're on top of the Super League at the moment and we're planning on staying there."

Wigan drew level on points with the Bulls thanks to Friday's crushing 74-4 win over Salford but Brian Noble's men will be expected to reopen their two-point lead at the expense of struggling Leeds.

The Rhinos have won only one of their last four matches to raise doubts over their play-off ambitions, but they hope to have skipper Iestyn Harris back to face the Bulls, and his half-back partner Ryan Sheridan also has an outside chance of playing only his second game in more than four months.

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