Orford's departure is offset as Bulls turn to Briggs

BRADFORD BULLS have signed gifted Featherstone Rovers stand-off Kyle Briggs in readiness for Matt Orford's imminent departure.

The Super League club should finalise the protracted departure of their high-profile Australian scrum-half today and have opted for a young British talent in his place.

They have already cut short the stay of one expensive import – ex-Manly forward Glen Hall departing last week just one year into a three-year deal – and Orford's complicated move to Canberra Raiders fits into a similar timescale.

It is perhaps no surprise, given the failure of two of last season's big-name overseas signings, that Bradford have looked closer to home for their latest new arrival, preferring instead the best of British.

Having been tutored at Leeds Rhinos' Academy and, more recently, graduating with Championship Grand Finalists Featherstone, Briggs, 23, is certainly one of the domestic game's most promising talents.

Bradford will hope he can now mature into a much-needed Super League playmaker having paid their West Yorkshire neighbours an undisclosed fee to release him from the final year of his contract at Post Office Road.

He joins up immediately and will fly with the Bulls' squad to Lanzarote tomorrow for their warm-weather training camp.

"It came out of the blue and happened really quickly but it was an opportunity I just couldn't turn down," explained Briggs, nominated for the 2010 Championship player of the year award having scored 23 tries.

"To get the chance to join Bradford is fantastic and I'd like to thank Featherstone for agreeing to release me.

"I'm sad to be leaving there but opportunities like this don't come round that often.

"I owe a lot to Daryl Powell and Ryan Sheridan at Featherstone; they've done wonders for me over the last couple of years."

Indeed, learning from those coaches, two accomplished former Super League half-backs both with international experience, should certainly enhance Briggs's chance of adapting to the top flight.

Bradford head coach Mick Potter will not be expecting too much too soon but with only Marc Herbert – who coincidently joined from Canberra – as a recognised half-back at Odsal, the goal-kicking Yorkshireman could get plenty of action and potentially a debut in the season opener against former club Leeds at Cardiff next month.

"It's an opportunity for Kyle to show what he's got," said Potter, who it is believed also hopes ultimately to entice ex-Great Britain half-back Leon Pryce back to Odsal from his former club St Helens.

"He's a player who's been on Bradford's radar for a couple of years and it's a chance for him to get a start.

"There's a bit of a void to be filled. Even though we've got players to play stand-off, there's an opportunity for someone to step up and really secure it as their position."

Briggs, who joined Rovers from Doncaster midway through the 2009 season, is a product of Stanningley ARLFC, the Leeds amateur club which developed England captain Jamie Peacock.

He has signed a two-year contract with a further year's option and Powell admitted: "I am delighted for him.

"Kyle is a quality individual and I've been proud to see him develop within the club over the last 18 months.

"It is a great opportunity for him and I hope he will be able to take it.

"I am confident he is a player who can step up and have an impact at Super League level."

Orford is expected to begin training at Canberra today when an announcement regarding his future is set to be made.

He joined the Bulls 12 months ago on a three-year contract but made only 14 appearances because of a shoulder injury and sought a release after failing to settle in England.

Bradford announced in October they would do so if they received suitable compensation for the two years left on his deal but, following some difficult discussions with the player's representatives and a number of suitors, that now sees unlikely.

However, a settlement is thought to have been agreed and Orford, who won the 2008 Grand Final with Manly, is ready to sign a two-year deal with the Raiders.

He has already seen a proposed move to Parramatta collapse because of Bradford's stance but was actually unveiled by Canberra earlier this week, unusually before the official announcement.

"The Raiders are a team on the rise and the way they finished the season last year shows they will be in the running again in 2011," said Orford.

"They have some exciting young players coming through and it would be a fantastic opportunity to play alongside the likes of Josh Dugan, Jarrod Croker and Daniel Vidot."

Canberra were desperate to acquire an experienced playmaker after Terry Campese tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the club's semi-final defeat by Wests Tigers last September.