Long-term recovery plan key to Lee Smith’s Bradford Bulls future

Lee Smith, playing for Wakefield against Bradford in 2004, hopes the Bulls can match his long-term ambition
Lee Smith, playing for Wakefield against Bradford in 2004, hopes the Bulls can match his long-term ambition
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FORMER England international Lee Smith has intimated he wants to stay with Bradford Bulls despite their latest relegation.

It is a positive step for the Championship club who have revealed they will use a hybrid model for their squad in 2018 comprising full and part-time players following demotion to League One.

If the club want me to do it I’m prepared to if we’re going to get straight back up; I don’t want to be at a club that is just happy to be in League 1. I don’t think they will be, though.

Lee Smith

Bradford co-owner Andrew Chalmers, who formed the new club in January after three-times World Club champions Bulls were placed in liquidation, has outlined plans after they failed to successfully manage a minus-12 points deduction.

Ex-Leeds Rhinos full-back/winger Smith was one of their new arrivals at the start of this season on a two-year deal but he could not help prevent the drop.

He said: “It’s been a very frustrating kind of year obviously playing catch-up with that minus-12 points and more or less every signing we’ve had, myself included, having an injury.

“Ashley Gibson got injured in his second game, Willie Tonga in his first, and it’s not been great for the owner who’s had it tough.

“He’s not briefed us yet on exactly how it will run next season with a part-time and full-time squad.

“I’m contracted for 2018 and I’m going to sit down in the next few weeks to see what the state of play is.

“If the club want me to do it I’m prepared to if we’re going to get straight back up; I don’t want to be at a club that is just happy to be in League 1.

“I don’t think they will be, though.

“I’ve probably only got three or four more years in my career and if I can finish with Bradford and maybe see them get back into Super League then that would be a fine achievement.”

Smith, who won three Grand Finals with Leeds and turned 31 last week, added: “It’s sad to see a club that’s been so big now be here but I don’t think the owners could have done much more.

“It’s the mis-management beforehand that hurt Bulls and now we’re feeling the brunt of it.

“You’d have thought, though, the only way now is up and the boys are very positive which is good.

“We’ve spoken about getting as many wins as possible before the season ends starting with Sunday’s game at Swinton.”

Chalmers, meanwhile, believes licencing will soon return.

He said: “It will be 2020 before the club can get back to Super League but we believe that from 2021 there will be a new Super League licensing format in place in any event.”