AS the speculation surrounding London Broncos’ future continues, Bradford Bulls scrum-half Luke Gale admits it would be “incredibly sad” if they did fall out of Super League.
Although a proud Yorkshireman, born and raised in Leeds, the London club proved a seminal influence on his fledgling career, turning him from first-team rookie to an England Knights international.
Gale faces his former club with Bradford Bulls tomorrow having moved back north two years ago but the game comes against a backdrop of increasing uncertainty.
Marooned at the bottom of Super League yet again, it is feared they are on the brink of collapse with owner David Hughes – believed to have invested £20m of his own money on the failing venture – considering his future with the club.
London still have no home for next season and attracted a crowd of just 1,143 for their last fixture at Twickenham Stoop.
The RFL has met London players in recent weeks, as well as Hughes and the club’s CEO, to discuss concerns raised.
Gale, who played for the then-named Harlequins from 2009-11, told the Yorkshire Post: “You hear different rumours and I’m not quite sure what’s going on there so I am concerned.
“A lot of players are moving on including some of their new signings so it doesn’t look particularly good.
“I don’t know what will happen but it would be incredibly sad if London did go bust.
“The amateur game down there is massive and there’s loads of kids playing rugby league.
“I know the Super League side aren’t doing great but they’ve got some great lads coming through their Academy too. Their only problem is they can’t keep them.
“I had a great three years down there, met some great friends and there should be a place for London in Super League but I know people just aren’t aware they are there.
“It’s hard to put a finger on why. When I said I played for Harlequins people would just presume I meant the rugby union team.
“There’s a lot of good work going on down there, though, and hopefully they will be okay.”
Of those London Academy products, exciting young centre Dan Sarginson is lined up for Wigan Warriors, while captain Tony Clubb is also set to move on, following the likes of homegrown prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, who switched to St Helens two years ago.
There has still been no new signings announced for 2014 but Gale admits he won’t be feeling sorry for his former club in tomorrow’s game at Odsal.
Although Francis Cummins’s Bradford have failed to reach the play-offs, they insist they will not slacken off in their remaining two games.
“That’s what we’ve spoken about this week,” added Gale.
“We’re all disappointed about missing out on the eight but we feel like we still owe them one after the last time we played them. London turned us over down there in the Challenge Cup and we haven’t forgotten that.
“We’ll be raring to go come Sunday and looking to rack up a win.”
Gale has endured a truncated campaign after missing much of the year following ankle surgery.
The 25-year-old goal-kicker also admits that may need further attention once Bradford have rounded off their season against Huddersfield in a week’s time.
“I’ve still got a bit of an ankle issue and I’ll be having a clear-out at end of the year which will hopefully put that behind me,” he said.
“I’ll be speaking to Kieron Purtill, the England Knights coach, and sitting down with Franny to see whether he wants me to play for them.
“They play Samoa before the World Cup and it would be great to be involved in that but I need to see what the best thing is with my ankle, speak to the physios too while looking at all the dates.”
Gale concedes it has been a frustrating 2013 all around.
“I can think of at least five games we’ve only lost by a point or two and that has really cost us,” he said.
“We need to be more focused and composed and if we’d have done that we’d be in the eight now.
“But we’ll finish these two games off, see what happens with the Knights and then I’m looking forward to getting a real good pre-season under my belt; I didn’t actually train until round 10 this year so it was hard to hit my straps.”
Bradford are without Adrian Purtell and Matty Blythe tomorrow so youngsters Sam Wood and Alex Mellor come in.