Rugby League: Bold new Bradford enlivens Elliott

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The Independent Online
MATTHEW ELLIOTT, the Bradford Bulls coach, believes that his squad for the coming season, spearheaded by the Paul brothers, is stronger than the one that won Super League two years ago. Elliott, who welcomed the former Canberra back row forward David Boyle, as the last element in Bradford's recruitment programme for 1999 yesterday, said: "It's a stronger squad than I've ever had the opportunity to work with and the one I've most enjoyed coaching."

Apart from Henry Paul and Boyle, the Bulls have signed the Australian backs, Nick Zisti and Michael Withers, the Salford centre Scott Naylor, and the young forward, Lee Radford, from Hull to try to reverse last year's relative decline. "Last year we underachieved and we're not going to let that happen again," Elliott said. "Fifth place isn't good enough."

Elliott also insisted that the combination of Robbie and Henry Paul, two players who thrive on an instinctive approach to the game, would not prove too much of a good thing. "I expect them to bring out the best in each other and I've already seen that on the training pitch," he said.

Henry, signed from Wigan in the winter's most intriguing switch, called Bradford's preparations so far "30 per cent better" than at his old club. "I've worked so hard over the last two weeks that I've been shattered at the end of the day," he said.

Bradford, who hope to soon make an announcement about their long-delayed plans to redevelop their ground, have also clinched a lucrative one-year deal with the kit manufacturers, Asics, to be the club's new main sponsor. The Bulls, who sold an astonishing 20,000 replica shirts in 1998, are keeping their sponsorship options open for the millennium year.

St Helens' biggest new signing, Kevin Iro, will miss Sunday's friendly against Swinton because he has been delayed in New Zealand by an accident to his daughter.

Doncaster, struggling at the foot of the Second Division last season, and almost closed down during the winter, have announced the signing of seven experienced players, headed by the former Great Britain captain, Garry Schofield, as they set out to revitalise the club. The others are headed by the New Zealander Guy Adams, and the French Under-21 international Sebastien Bouche. Graham Southernwood, Stuart Flowers, Lee Maher and Darren Summerhill have also joined the club while the Papua New Guinea centre, John Okul, has resigned, but the capture of Schofield, who has been playing rugby union for Aberavon, is the most promising. "It's a new challenge for me and hopefully I can help to put Doncaster back on the rugby league map," said the 33-year-old former Hull and Leeds player, who was sacked as coach of Huddersfield last July.

The new-look side will make its first appearance in the Challenge Cup- tie at home to Oldham St Anne's on 31 January.