Bradford Bulls coach Mick Potter says his team will battle against the odds as they aim to claw back the six points deducted by the Rugby Football League.
The Bulls dropped out of the play-off positions after the RFL’s board of directors removed the points gained from three of their 11 wins in Super League this season as a result of the club going into administration.
Potter admitted the announcement came as no surprise but insisted it was “a kick in the stomach” for his players, who have defied massive uncertainty over their future to win three of their last four matches to raise hopes of a top-eight finish.
“It’s disappointing,” said Potter, who is working on a voluntary basis after being among 16 full-time staff made redundant by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle last month.
“It’s no surprise. We understood that’s what happens when you go into administration, it’s part of the process for this type of thing.
“But it’s a massive kick in the stomach for the players, who have done all they possibly could to get results, and also the fans, who have done over and above what they had to do.
“It’s just disappointing, sitting on the sidelines waiting for your punishment, especially when you’ve not instigated any of it.”
The punishment takes immediate effect and drops the Bulls out of the play-off positions, from seventh to ninth, ahead of Sunday’s trip to second-placed Warrington Wolves.
Bradford still have to play Huddersfield and Hull KR, the two clubs to benefit from their points deduction, in the run-in so their fate remains in their own hands but Potter insists the punishment is a body blow to their play-off hopes.
“It makes it hard, if not close to impossible, to make the play-offs,” he said.
“That might be a slight exaggeration but it’s going to be tough. We’ve got some hard games coming up, finishing up with Catalan away.
“The players have been great, they’ve been doing everything they can to get the two points every week, and, hopefully, that will continue.
“They’re riding that roller-coaster at the moment but I can’t fault their efforts on the field.”
Bradford received the maximum penalty laid down in the RFL’s operational rules.
The RFL board of directors exercised some flexibility by docking Wakefield and Crusaders four points when they entered administration on the eve of the 2011 season after taking into account the new owners’ willingness to pay off some of the debts to creditors.
“We expected a deduction of points by the RFL and, of course, we accept that penalty,” said Bradford’s interim chief executive Gary Tasker.
“We are not yet in a position to be able to offer any recompense to our creditors and, as such, a six-point deduction was what we expected.
“We are still in the competition and a place in the top-eight – and with it the ability to make the play-offs – is still within our grasp and we will be travelling to Warrington on Sunday in a confident and determined mood.”
Although Guilfoyle has found a potential buyer, any deal is some way off being completed.
On Tuesday, he passed on details of a formal, written offer from the ABC consortium, a group of local Asian businessmen, to the RFL but it is conditional on them being able to buy back the lease to Odsal Stadium and receiving a guarantee on the Bulls remaining in Super League.
He has until tomorrow to avoid putting the club into liquidation, although he has the option of a further extension of the deadline if he feels he can complete a takeover deal.
Huddersfield have brought forward the appointment of Kieron Purtill as assistant to new head coach Paul Anderson.
Purtill, who lost his assistant’s job at St Helens when Royce Simmons was sacked in March, was due to join the Giants at the end of the season.
But the departure of Nathan Brown last week prompted the club to fast-track the promotion of Anderson and they have moved to bring on board Purtill ahead of Sunday’s game against St Helens.
England’s academy team made a winning start to their four-match tour of Australia with a 28-18 victory over New South Wales juniors at Narrabeen.
The tourists twice came from behind and scored three tries in the last 10 minutes to win.
Wigan half-back Ryan Hampshire scored England’s first try and sent Warrington winger James Saltonstall over for another to give his side a 10-4 half-time lead.
NSW scored two quick tries early in the second half to go 18-10 in front but Warrington second-row Ben Currie touched down twice before St Helens centre Greg Wilde added a fifth try, with Hampshire kicking his fourth goal.
n Hull KR second-rower Con Mika has been handed a one-match ban for a reckless high tackle during his side’s 32-18 derby defeat by Hull.
Mika was put on report for the challenge which laid out Hull centre Jordan Turner and he admitted the grade B offence when he appeared in front of the RFL’s disciplinary committee.
The former Newcastle Knights forward was also fined £300.