Dave Craven: Appeal lost, but not hope, as Bulls players need to stand up

Bradford Bulls take to the field at Odsal.

Bradford Bulls take to the field at Odsal.

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SO, everyone now knows where they stand.

Bradford Bulls undoubtedly face an unenviable task to retain their Super League status but, by no means is it an insurmountable challenge.

The work, in essence, starts tomorrow when victory over Salford Red Devils would give the troubled club a lift in morale that is perhaps immeasurable.

In deciding to uphold the RFL’s decision to dock Bradford six points for entering administration earlier this week, an independent sporting appeals panel has, at least, brought some form of clarity to the whole situation.

Bradford are currently seven points away from safety and they won’t be gifted any of them back.

They do, though, have the personnel among their ranks to ensure they do not require such generosity.

In players such as Luke Gale, Brett Kearney – the Australian full-back who will imminently return from injury – and Matty Blythe they have genuine quality, while the experience of Harry Sunderland Trophy winner Matt Diskin and fellow Leeds Rhinos Grand Final winner Chev Walker will prove crucial in the weeks ahead.

Granted, the leadership of head coach Francis Cummins and his trusted assistant Lee St Hilaire will be important, too, and they have the ability to guide their side in the right direction.

But let’s not be naive; it is going to be the players who are charged with the job of preventing this illustrious club from falling into the relative obscurity of Championship football.

They have to shrug off a campaign of inconsistency and discover some form fast.

Have they the stomach for that fight? You would like to think so and the noises emanating from Odsal this week certainly suggest they are redoubling their efforts ready for the battle.

Cummins himself is unperturbed and rightly so; he would want his side to prove their worth on the field rather than rely on a decision that – rightly or wrongly – would have brought so much disharmony to the rest of the competition.

It remains to be seen whether owner Marc Green will pursue legal action and appeal the appeal. That seems a step too far, though it is easy for me to suggest having invested nothing into the club on a personal level.

But dragging this case on longer still would only serve to cause further unsettling uncertainty. Have belief in the staff instead.

Casting an eye over Bradford’s fixture list it is easy to see the next six days are critical.

After Salford – a side bereft of confidence, form and so many other things – they host Hull KR in a game which is just as important.

If, and it’s a big if, Cummins’s side can garner four points from those fixtures they will be on their way. If they don’t, suddenly the situation looks bleak; in their following six fixtures they travel to Warrington, St Helens, Huddersfield and Leeds while they face champions Wigan at home and – their one favourable contest – Catalan Dragons.

So, this could reasonably be termed as the biggest week in the club’s history. All of that said, the club has insisted Green will remain to help turn them around if the worst does happen.

But no one, aside from perhaps Wakefield Trinity and Salford, really wants that to happen.

Neither, though, will they have any help in the matter. It’s time for those players to stand up.

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