Warrington wary of the Bulls backlash

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The Independent Online

The Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, is expecting a backlash from Bradford today at the end of a turbulent week for the Bulls. The Super League champions lost their coach, Brian Noble, to Wigan amid accusations that the Bulls' chief executive, Gareth Davies, had mishandled matters to such an extent that Noble felt he was left with no option but to leave.

It is a strange state of affairs when one of the most successful clubs in the game can lose a man who has contributed so much so easily. The nature of the Wigan job is such, though, that Noble might have found the challenge irresistible in any event.

That leaves Steve McNamara, long seen as his heir apparent, to take the reins when the Bulls play away to Warrington today, and Cullen is not expecting the visitors' upheavals to make life any easier for his team.

"These blokes have massive reserves of emotional resilience and we're not expecting any weaknesses," he said. "In fact, I'm anticipating an emotional backlash from their players following Brian's departure."

The vagaries of this season's fixture list mean that it is only two weeks since Warrington went to Bradford and won - another reason why Cullen is expecting the Bulls to throw everything at his side.

The Wolves will be without two former Bradford players, with Toa Kohe-Love resting a knee injury alongside Chris Bridge, who is still missing the action with an ankle strain.

That could mean a chance in his preferred role for yet another ex-Bull. Stuart Reardon has started to make an impression for Warrington on the wing, but he sees himself as a full-back and is expected to get his opportunity there this afternoon, with Brent Grose moving to centre.

McNamara, Super League's youngest coach at 34, is likely to be able to bring in both Harrises - Iestyn and Ben - after they missed Noble's last match against Huddersfield with minor injuries.

In today's other game, Harlequins, their confidence boosted no end by their two wins over Easter, have the chance to make it three in a row when they go to Wakefield.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, St Helens chalked up their 11th straight win this season with a 12-10 victory at Salford on Friday night, with Sean Long in outstanding form. And Danny Maguire scored his 100th try for Leeds in 115 appearances as they outclassed Castleford 42-6.

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