Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins was understandably elated to capture former State of Origin prop Antonio Kaufusi in time for tomorrow’s game with Warrington Wolves.
The ex-Australia front-row, 29, joined on loan from Huddersfield Giants to ease their West Yorkshire neighbours’ latest injury crisis.
Bradford, who remain bottom of Super League, lost both starting props, Jamal Fakir and Manase Manuokafoa, to injury in Sunday’s morale-boosting Challenge Cup fifth-round win over Catalan Dragons.
Having also seen Nick Scruton (Wakefield) and Garreth Carvell (Hull FC) depart during their recent dabble with administration, Cummins was left severely short ahead of the visit of a Warrington side who have won the last 10 fixtures between the clubs.
However, Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson yesterday agreed to lend his Bradford counterpart Kaufusi, the ex-Melbourne Storm, Newcastle Knights and Queensland star who joined on a two-year deal from London Broncos last autumn.
Kaufusi has fallen out of favour at Giants, ironically losing his place to Anthony Mullally after the Ireland international shone in his own loan spell at Odsal earlier this season.
Cummins, of course, is glad to have either of the towering players and said: “We are absolutely delighted to have someone of Antonio’s ability on board. He is an exceptional talent, who packs plenty of power and presence.
“He brings further experience to our team and we are sure he will make a huge impact during his time here.
“Antonio has representative honours, which are not easy to come by, and spent a huge amount of time playing at the top level both in Super League and NRL.
“I am sure he will fit straight in and I look forward to seeing what he can do.”
Cummins, meanwhile, has warned his side that Warrington are learning to play without the brilliant Lee Briers.
The talismanic stand-off, who had been the club’s heartbeat for more than a decade, retired last winter due to a neck injury.
He is now on their coaching staff but they have struggled to cope without him on the field plus ex-Huddersfield full-back Brett Hodgson – who also retired – and veteran prop Adrian Morley, who moved to Salford.
Beaten Grand Finalists in each of the last two seasons, Warrington have already lost five league games this term to offer Bradford hope of a rare victory.
“Lee Briers basically ran the team for Warrington and his understudies are now learning to be the top gun,” said Cummins.
“That’s the transition that can happen and they have had a tough start to the season by their standards. But that probably makes them more dangerous. You saw on Good Friday when they played Widnes; when the ball sticks and they are on the front foot, they can take you to task.”
Warrington are without Stefan Ratchford (calf) so ex-Bradford centre Chris Bridge will continue at stand-off where he impressed against Doncaster last week.