New Bradford Bulls head coach Francis Cummins is ready to work with limited resources


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The Independent Online

New Bradford Bulls head coach Francis Cummins is ready to work on a shoestring budget in 2013.

The 35-year-old former Leeds winger was today unveiled as the successor to Australian Mick Potter at a press conference hosted at Odsal by new owner Omar Khan and honorary chairman Gerry Sutcliffe.

Cummins has been promoted from the role of assistant coach and handed a three-year contract, despite the Bulls being given only a 12-month probationary Super League licence.

Khan and Sutcliffe are effectively on trial in 2013 but Cummins has been rewarded with some long-term security after working unpaid, alongside both Potter and the club's other assistant Lee St Hilaire, for the last three months of the season.

Cummins, who will be the youngest head coach in Super League in 2013, will be faced with a rebuilding job after 17 of the club's 33-strong playing staff all came off contract and he admits money will be tight.

Sutcliffe said he would talking to the Rugby Football League this week about central funding but it is thought the new owners have agreed to take a substantial cut in proceeds from the Sky television deal in return for being allowed to remain in Super League.

Cummins is hoping to keep as many of the current squad intact as possible and does not anticipate much activity in the transfer market.

"We've got 16 players contracted and we'll hopefully be sitting down with the players in the next few days or weeks to secure our playing staff," he said.

"That will be the current crop of players who will hopefully continue and also there will be a few young players moving up as well.

"There are kids here who you've not heard of yet but you will do if I can do my job correctly and bring them through and we can have a team full of home-grown talent."

Cummins enjoyed a one-club career with Leeds, for whom he made 356 appearances from 1993 to 2005, and also won three caps for Great Britain, before retiring at the age of 29.

The former Ireland and Great Britain international cut his coaching teeth as an assistant for four years at Leeds before being appointed as Potter's number two at Odsal at the start of the 2011 season and believes he is ready to take charge of his own team.

"I wouldn't be sat here if I didn't think that," Cummins said. "To be honest, I've been ready for a couple of years.

"I had to leave Leeds to further my education. It's been great working with Mick but I've always known I'm ready to have my team."

Potter turned down the chance to stay on at Odsal under the new regime and instead recommended Cummins as his successor, especially after demonstrating his loyalty in the summer at the height of the club's financial crisis.

When administrator Brendan Guilfoyle made the entire coaching staff redundant on July 2, Cummins was contacted by former Bradford coach Brian Noble about the prospect of working as his assistant.

He turned the offer down and returned to work alongside Potter on a voluntary basis, while Noble disappeared from the scene.

Potter, who returned to Australia at the weekend, claimed at the time that Cummins' actions would stand him in good stead and today's announcement will be seen as vindication of the stance made by both men.

Cummins said: "Mick has been very good for me in terms of my coaching education but also as a man.

"What he has done is very honourable for the Bradford club and I want to continue that.

"I think it is important that we do things in the right way and we set a marker down on how we're going to take the club forward."

Cummins has yet to assemble his support staff but Sutcliffe said the club hope to make further announcements, including the make-up of the administration, later this week.

Sutcliffe said the club had decided to increase the price of season tickets, which have for the last two years been the cheapest in Super League by some distance, and he admits they will need backing from fans and local businesses to turn around the club's financial fortunes.

"Francis has to tell us what he wants in terms of the coaching structure and the players he wants," he said.

"Of course, we've got to operate within the tight budget we face as a new company at the start of the journey.

"That's why we always said it's up to the fans and the people of Bradford to support us.

"We've an exciting new, young coach and an exciting team and this hopefully can lead to success for this great club."