Bradford Bulls v London Broncos: Walker in for long haul to help silence the doubters

Chev Walker is stopped by Jarrod Sammut and Andy Raleigh in last week's West Yorkshire derby. Picture Bruce Rollinson.
Chev Walker is stopped by Jarrod Sammut and Andy Raleigh in last week's West Yorkshire derby. Picture Bruce Rollinson.
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AFTER reading unflattering comments about his team-mates, Chev Walker believes Bradford Bulls could actually be better off without the regime who walked out on the club this week.

The former Super League champions are in administration once more – technically for a third time in just 18 months – after Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd, the company set up to take over from OK Bulls Ltd, withdrew its offer on Tuesday.

This was, apparently, in reaction to the Bulls being docked six competition points, something chairman Mark Moore said made “relegation almost a certainty”.

Moore, who, with fellow directors Ian Watt and Andrew Calvert, had been running the club since taking over from Omar Khan last September parted only after aiming a diatribe at the RFL, too, for their handling of the whole affair.

However, as Bradford prepare for tomorrow’s crucial home game with London Broncos, their ex-Great Britain international Walker says it might be a case of good riddance.

“I don’t know what sort of reaction they were trying to get from that by saying we’re almost certainly relegated,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“It was strange as it is do-able. In fact, it’s quite easily do-able; this time next week we could have all six of those points back already.

“But, if they didn’t have any confidence in us, maybe they weren’t the right people to take us on after all.

“I don’t know their reasons for saying that or for leaving, but we’re not fussed by any of it and are just looking ahead.”

Given they prospered 23-10 at Wakefield last week, are fully expected to win against bottom-placed London tomorrow and then have a trip to Hull FC on Friday, you can see Walker’s point.

He insists the squad is well-prepared to fight on amid all the uncertainty given the fact they have been in the position before.

“There is a bit of deja vu to all this, but the good thing is that the majority of us have been through it all before,” said Walker.

“We know what it’s like. Obviously we’re all just waiting to see what happens and we’re not sure what that will be.

“But all we can do is try and fulfil our fixtures and do what we can out on the pitch.

“We can regroup and go on and achieve something, staying up by actually earning it.

“It is well-achievable, especially at this time of year. If it had been in the middle of the season and we’d been in a bad run of form it might have been different.

“But now, at the start of the year, with just two games gone, we know what we have to do.

“Some clubs lose their first five games and still come through to have a good season. We’re quietly confident of having a good one with Bradford this year.”

Of course, much depends on whether coach Francis Cummins can retain the majority of his squad. The team spirit he has helped fostered meant, generally speaking, administration did not cause mass panic in the past.

Quite the opposite, in fact, as they won five of their next seven matches after being told that news in June 2012, defying the odds to surge towards the play-offs and only their six-point deduction denying them a top-eight spot.

But given the financial struggles have continued ever since, it is easy to see why some might follow the likes of Jarrod Sammut and Garreth Carvell recently and Craig Kopczak, previously, in departing.

Walker, the ex-Leeds Rhino who has witnessed most things in the sport, whether it be career-threatening injuries, a dabble with rugby union for Bath or Grand Final glory, says it would be understandable if that did happen.

“They are personal matters those,” explained the 31-year-old.

“You don’t know what pressures people have from home and stuff like that and what they need to survive. You can’t blame anyone who does, but hopefully it won’t and we can stay strong together.

“My options are limited but I’m in for the long haul anyway. I know Franny is and I respect him for that so why would I think any different? I love the place and, as long as there’s a club and I’m contracted, I’m all for staying.”

That is no surprise as Walker – transformed from a centre to back-row/prop in his latter years – has, after a difficult start at Odsal, been reinvigorated after moving from Hull KR in 2010.

“I seem to have got over my injury after injury and I am enjoying my football again,” he said.

“We know it’s a really important game against London. If we don’t get our attitude right anyone can hurt you in this division and they are no different.

“Everyone is fighting for survival now – or for the title at the other end – and for everyone who didn’t get in the eight last year there is a real battle on for safety.

“We can’t afford to have the same attitude as we did last year when they came up here to our place and turned us over. We’ll try and put everything else that is going on out of our minds and hopefully results will come.”

Walker’s contract will be up this year, but if he plays 16 games he will automatically earn a new deal. The hope is there is a club still there for him to play for but, you sense, if Bradford can retain such experienced professionals, they will prove Moore and many others wrong.