Wembley a red rag to the Bulls

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The Independent Online
WHEN Graeme Bradley agreed to join his former coach, Brian Smith, at the Bradford Bulls last year, he was under the impression that he would be one of half a dozen experienced players in the side. By the time he arrived in Britain in January, he was virtually on his own as a senior citizen at Odsal.

Over 10 years as a professional, mainly in his native Australia but including a season at Castleford, make Bradley's know-how invaluable as they go into their Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds at Huddersfield on Saturday. Having played for Castleford in a Cup final against Wigan, he is one of the few Bradford players with any experience of Wembley.

"I enjoyed the day, even though we lost," the second-row or centre said. "I think the occasion got to us a bit that day. We had a few blokes who had never been to London, never mind Wembley, and it was all a bit much. But the place makes you want to go back and win there."

First, Bradford must account for a Leeds side who have been there for the past two years and are likely to make it three in a row. The Bulls are a team in transition after Smith's ruthless cull of the old guard. On Saturday, they will be unable to field their two Cup-tied signings, Glen Tomlinson and James Lowes, but the side will still be unrecognisable from this time last year.

Apart from Bradley, the veteran of Grand Finals with his Australian club, St George, as well as his Wembley jaunt with Castleford, nobody will be more highly motivated than Paul Cook, the 19-year-old goal-kicking winger whose departure from Leeds last season stunned many of the club's fans. Cook could not command a place in Leeds' Cup final team last year, but he is well equipped to benefit from the sort of one-on-one coaching in which Smith believes, and could be a key man in blocking the way for his former club on Saturday.