BRADFORD Bulls star Lee Gaskell admits all the squad believe they are Super League quality – but it is up to them to earn the right to return to the elite.
The stand-off could have left Odsal after the club’s surprise relegation last term but decided to stick with the West Yorkshire club and help plot their fightback from the Championship in 2015.
Having played in a Super League Grand Final with St Helens in 2011, there is no doubting his talent and Gaskell should certainly be a force in the second-tier when the campaign gets underway in barely a fortnight’s time.
He looked lost at times last season when he played out of position as a full-back but, with Luke Gale having left for Castleford Tigers, Bradford coach James Lowes will now hand him the role of chief playmaker at Odsal and the opportunity to prove his true value.
Harry Siejka, the Australian scrum-half who played nine games for Wakefield Trinity last term, is likely to be his partner, one of a raft of signings brought in from Super League.
That experience should prove crucial and Gaskell said: “Every Bradford player thinks he is a Super League player and so do I.
“Hopefully, we’ll be back up there fighting where we should be next year. I think it’s going to be a good season not just for me but all the new faces here and a good year for Bradford.
“We’ve got new players in the squad and in the backroom staff and we will go places.
“But we know we have to show our quality.”
Gaskell concedes they did not do that in last week’s friendly at Leeds Rhinos, Jamie Peacock’s testimonial game.
He scored a try and looked Bradford’s most potent player but they lost 34-14 and the 24 year-old insists it wasn’t good enough despite the calibre of opponent.
“We came in a bit slack,” conceded the half-back.
“I suppose it was a good run-out and minutes under out belts and the weather had a role too but it’s no excuse.
“We could have turned up a stronger team.”
They have two weeks then to prepare themselves for an intriguing opener at Leigh Centurions, the Championship Grand Final winners and one of the favourites with Bradford to earn promotion.
“It’s one of the biggest games in the Championship,” admitted Gaskell.
“Leigh are a good side. They beat Wigan in a friendly the other week and you can see with their squad what they are about.
“They’ve signed Fuifui Moimoi and people like that, too.
“They went to Leeds last season in the Challenge Cup and had a good game against them.
“We’re looking towards that match at Leigh now and building strong.”
Lowes, however, will get no more opportunities to run the rule over his new-look squad ahead of that first game in the Championship.
They have no more friendlies planned before the real business begins for the fallen giants of Super League and three-times World Club Challenge victors.