Bradford Bulls half-back Luke Gale is hoping tonight’s trip to London will not be the club’s final excursion to the country’s capital this season.
For the Bulls face London Broncos at The Twickenham Stoop tonight in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup, with a quarter-final place up for grabs.
While the winners stand just two games away from a return to London, and a Wembley final on August 24, Gale has added incentive to do well tonight as he comes up against his former club.
The former Leeds Rhinos Academy player was on loan with Doncaster when he signed for Harlequins RL at the end of 2008 and it proved to be a career-defining move. In his three seasons with the London club, he made 72 appearances and earned a place with England Knights.
But tonight he stands in the opposition camp and looking for a repeat result of their last game against London, a 46-20 win last month.
“It will be good, I’ve got a few friends at the club and I enjoyed my time down there,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it and I know the boys are as well.”
The Bulls played London a month ago at High Wycombe when The Stoop was unavailable for what turned out to be a cracking contest. The Londoners led 20-12 at half-time thanks to a hat-trick from Kieran Dixon but Jarrod Sammut turned the game on its head in the second half with a four-try haul to give Bradford a 46-20 victory.
Not that Gale or Bradford will be taking anything for granted tonight.
“Obviously, we’ll go in there in a positive frame of mind but you can’t underestimate them. London can turn teams over,” said Gale. “If you take them too lightly, they’ll shock you.
“I know they’ve been at the foot of the table but they’ve got class players like Luke Dorn and some good young kids in Kieran Dixon and Daniel Sarginson.
“With it being Friday night, there should be a bit of atmosphere and, hopefully, they’ll get a good crowd in. It’s a game to look forward to definitely.”
The Bulls have named an unchanged 19-man squad, John Bateman – who missed last week’s home defeat to Leeds with a wrist injury – looks certain to play. Manase Manuokafoa picked up a thumb injury against the Rhinos and will be assessed.
“The Challenge Cup is special,” said Gale. “It’s a different game, you don’t play week in, week out, so it’s a different kind of buzz and the boys always get up for it. Every team dreams of a good Challenge Cup run and it definitely has a different feel about it.
“I think when you start your career, you dream of playing at Wembley. It’s a massive thing, something that everyone wants to achieve.”