STATE of Origin star Dane Nielsen is “raring to go” as he prepares to make his belated Bradford Bulls debut.
The former Queensland centre was expected to make his bow at Wakefield a week ago but was instead given longer in practice to make the transition following his recent switch from Australia.
Nielsen, 30, has not played at first-team level since being sacked by NRL club St George Illawarra in May but is now ready to face Salford Red Devils at Odsal tomorrow.
Bradford are looking for a second Qualifiers victory to bolster their promotion bid after a woeful 48-18 defeat at Trinity.
“It was pretty hard to watch that because I wanted to be out there with the boys,” admitted Nielsen, who had been included in the 19-man squad by James Lowes.
“But the coach made the decision to give me another week and let me get a few more sessions under my belt.
“I was fine with that, but Wakefield played pretty well and, hopefully, I’ll be out there this weekend.
“I’m raring to go and have been over here for almost two weeks now.
“My sleeping pattern is good and my weight is good, so I’m looking forward to playing.”
However, Super League Salford – with former England stand-off Rangi Chase in devastating form – vanquished Leigh Centurions 46-18 last weekend to demonstrate how tough it will be for the Bulls.
Leigh, of course, had finished top of the Championship above second-placed Bradford.
Nielsen, who won the 2009 NRL Grand Final with Melbourne Storm, said: “Rangi is obviously playing some really good footy at the moment, but Cory Patterson is another quality player.
“I’ve played against him when he was at Newcastle Knights and he’s going great again, so we’re expecting a tough game.
“Last week was disappointing but we’ve got to move on now and go out and beat Salford.
“It’s very important for us as there are only five games left.
“I’ve had a few fitness tests and done all the sessions so far, so it’s going to be a work in progress, but I’m looking forward to it and, hopefully, can play my part in the team.”
Australian full-back Jake Mullaney is set to return from injury against his former club and Alex Mellor is back in the fray, too, as they take the places of Lee Gaskell and Matt Ryan – who were both injured at Wakefield – in Lowes’ 19-man squad.