BRADFORD BULLS’ new signing Omari Caro claims he still has not been told why he was cut from Super League by Hull KR – a decision which left him in the rugby wilderness for over six months.
The prolific winger showed his class by scoring a hat-trick for Bradford during Sunday’s thrilling 36-36 top-of-the-table draw with Championship leaders Leigh Centurions.
It was only his second game back in the sport having been surprisingly released by Hull KR at the end of last season despite being the East Yorkshire club’s top scorer with 14 tries in just a dozen matches.
Caro – who had to return home to London and work in a shop to pay his bills – was not offered a new deal by head coach Chris Chester and, instead, found himself playing semi-professional rugby union with Blackheath.
He only discovered he was being let go at Hull KR’s end-of-season awards dinner and the 24-year-old admits the decision still rankles with him.
“I still don’t even know what happened, if I’m honest,” said Caro, having scored 20 tries in only 22 games with Rovers since joining from London Broncos three years ago.
“I don’t know. There’s still not been any sort of closure yet. It’s still ongoing but it’s in the past now and I’ve put it behind me.
“I never really got an answer about why I was being let go. I was saying to a couple of the lads, it would have been nice just to be told.
“If you’re not wanted, that’s fair enough, but to not be told the reasons for it wasn’t great.”
Rovers had made two wing signings from the NRL for 2015 –Newcastle Knights’ Josh Mantellato and Parramatta Eels’ Ken Sio.
Although both have gone on to become success stories, each scoring 14 league tries, the former was certainly a gamble given he was playing predominantly reserve-grade football beforehand.
Caro, meanwhile, has signed a deal with promotion-chasing Bradford until the end of this season and, ironically, could end up playing against his former club in the Middle Eights if Rovers, as expected, finish outside of the top eight this weekend.
The tall winger initially came to attention with London in 2012, scoring four tries in 12 appearances before later being crowned the fastest man in rugby league after winning the annual sprint competition at Headingley.
However, Hammersmith-born Caro, who also scored a hat-trick for Rovers against Wakefield on the last day of last season, has experienced an unusual few months recently.
“First and foremost I was working,” he recalled.
“I had to get a job in retail as the wages stopped coming in. Up until Christmas I was at Westfields, the big shopping centre, and I had to move back to London where it’s not cheap living either.
“I was playing just Championship rugby union with Blackheath and have been trying to stay fit but it’s not the same as being in a full-time environment.
“My manager got in touch and offered me the chance to go out to Hong Kong for the Sevens there, which was great.
“From April, when I got back, I was working in sales for a new-start company which was interesting and gave me a bit of an insight into life after rugby. But it’s not something I’m passionate about at the moment.”
Caro made his home debut for Bradford in sensational circumstances, showing his finishing prowess with a classy treble in front of an incredible crowd of 9,181, the biggest in the Championship this season by far.
That will have done his bargaining power the world of good when it comes to extending his current short-term contract.
He added: “Hopefully it will all go well here and then I’ll sit down with (head coach) Jimmy (Lowes) for a chat about next year.
“It’s always nice to score tries but I don’t really remember them.
“I’ll have to watch them back but the crowd reaction to the second... it sounded like a great one.
“Adam Henry put me away for that and the one at the end, too, that got us the draw.
“The fans were great, too, and it was a better atmosphere (at Odsal) than some games I’ve played in in Super League.
“With the squad they have here, the fans, the history and the fact that everyone works so hard for each other, behind the scenes too, then Bradford Bulls deserve to be in Super League.
“I know I’ve not been here long but it is the ultimate goal to get back there and you can feel that so it’s going to be exciting playing these Qualifiers when they start.”
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have continued their late-season signing spree with the capture of Tongan centre/wing Bill Tupou, 25, from Canberra Raiders until the end of the campaign.
He is a seventh signing in as many weeks and could debut in Sunday’s final regular round at Huddersfield.
Meanwhile, Australian back-row Matt Ryan, 27 has left the club with immediate effect.