Batley Bulldogs v Bradford Bulls: Steve Crossley aims to celebrate new deal with play-off victory
Bradford Bulls head into today’s sudden-death Championship play-off at Batley Bulldogs buoyed by news captain Steve Crossley has signed a new one-year deal.
The experienced prop, who is in his third spell at Odsal, has missed just one game all season and will be an important figure if Bradford are to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Crossley, 31, said: “I am ecstatic. People know my story having come up through the Academy and, being a Bradford lad, to extend my contract I am over the moon.
“It has been a good run. The last couple of weeks have been disappointing but on the whole it has been a good year.
“After a poor start we turned it around having built a really tight-knit unit and now we are all excited for the play-offs.”
Bradford slipped to fifth after losing their last three regular rounds against leaders Toulouse Olympique (60-6), at Widnes Vikings (10-9) and Sunday’s 36-22 home loss to Whitehaven.
Batley defeated Halifax Panthers on Sunday to leapfrog Bradford into fourth and earn home advantage.
They will fancy their chances of seeing off the Bulls, too, but coach Craig Lingard is wary given the pedigree of Bradford chief John Kear who famously won the Challenge Cup against the odds with Sheffield Eagles and Hull FC.
“This weekend, they are most threatening because there is nobody better prepared to get them ready for a knockout game than John Kear,” he said.
“He has proven that throughout his career; he can get teams up for one-off games.
“If you lose this week you are out.
“After the performance they had against Whitehaven, I would imagine we will expect an improved performance and a tough, physical battle down the middle of the park.
“The message to our side is that we need to physically toughen up down the middle.”
Meanwhile, Bradford winger Joe Brown, 21, hopes to sign off on a high after it was confirmed yesterday he will join Championship rivals York City Knights for 2022.
“It’s going to be a new challenge for me and it’s a bit of a fresh start,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how my game develops over the next year or so because I’ve got a lot of improvement to do.
“You see how people like Matty Marsh have kicked on under James Ford. I’m hoping that I can follow what he has done.”