Purtell sets safety target for troubled Bradford

Bradford Bulls' Adrian Purtell.  Picture by Tony Johnson
Bradford Bulls' Adrian Purtell. Picture by Tony Johnson
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Having fought back from a life-threatening heart condition, it is easy to see why Adrian Purtell is undaunted by Bradford Bulls’ challenge in avoiding an unthinkable relegation from Super League.

It was a little over two years ago that the Australian centre suffered a heart attack on the way back from his club’s game at Magic Weekend in Manchester.

Thankfully, he made a full recovery. Indeed, so successful has his rehabilitation been that the 29-year-old is currently playing the best football of his time at Odsal since moving from Penrith Panthers in the winter of 2011.

News, then, that Bradford’s appeal against a six-point deduction for entering administration was unsuccessful on Wednesday has not left him overly concerned.

Admittedly, they remain seven points adrift of safety and tomorrow’s trip to Salford Reds Devils, a side whose freefall leaves them now just seven points in front of the West Yorkshire club, has subsequently become all the more critical.

But Purtell, the club’s top try-scorer with nine so far this season, remains pragmatic.

“We always treated the situation like we weren’t going to get any points back,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

“Obviously, we’d have loved some – any – but now we can focus on the job in hand.

“We know what we have to do. We have to get some wins on the board and pick up points ourselves.

“There’s plenty of games left – 12 in total – so we know there’s time but it’s important we start doing it now.”

There is talk that Bradford will appeal the appeal but the players are ready to ensure they decide their own fate.

Purtell concedes they are not informed enough to comment on whether that course of action will be merited.

“I don’t know the rules well enough or what might have happened in meetings that have gone on,” added the ex-Canberra Raiders player.

“But we all know the rules do say if you go into administration you’re going to lose points.

“It goes without saying now that every game is going to be really important.”

Bradford had won just one of their previous 11 Super League games before picking up a much-needed success against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – who have moved up to 11th after last night’s win over bottom-placed London Broncos with Salford dropping into 12th – almost a fortnight ago.

They were brought crashing back down to earth with a sobering 46-10 Challenge Cup quarter-final at home to Warrington Wolves last Sunday but tomorrow’s appointment is a far more likely source of success.

Coach Francis Cummins has, typically, been hit with selection issues given Huddersfield Giants prop Antonio Kaufusi this week declined the chance to extend his stay at Odsal for the rest of the season and another on-loan forward – Hull FC’s Jay Pitts – serves a one-game ban at Salford tomorrow for a dangerous lift tackle last week.

His KC Stadium team-mate Joe Arundel is recalled as is Jordan Baldwinson, their recent recruit from New Zealand Warriors, who will be in better shape following some extensive training.

Salford, who have France half-back Theo Fages, ex-Batley centre Jason Walton and former Bradford full-back Michael Platt returning, are without a win in their last eight games dating back to a successful trip to Odsal on April 11.

Purtell, meanwhile, is relishing being back to full fitness.

He has made more metres than any colleague in Super League this season with 1,164m and is also their leading carrier with 199 showing his insatiable appetite for work.

Moreover, those carries often cause some damage with the Australian proving one of Bradford’s most destructive runners.

“I am enjoying it,” he admitted.

“It’s my first real sustained run in the side. Obviously, I had the heart problem in my first year and then last season I was just getting back in and doing okay.

“But this time I feel like I am really starting to play some good football and I’m ever-present which has helped get me some consistency.”

Purtell’s contract expires at the end of the season. He would like to stay at Odsal but much depends on whether they remain in Super League.

He will be doing his utmost to ensure they do.