Cummins is looking for positives from Bradford’s start

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IT is music to the ears of rugby league followers who believe the game has become too predictable and mundane.

“I don’t want to just be a completion team; I want them to attack and I want them to offload,” said Bradford Bulls head coach Francis Cummins, ahead of this afternoon’s visit from 
St Helens.

Hallelujah, amen. Rhetoric involving percentages, completing sets and unforced errors has been all too prevalent from many Super League coaches in recent memory with perhaps too much emphasis on, first and foremost, their players not making mistakes.

It is, then, refreshing to hear Cummins encouraging more positive football and, in fairness, other bosses are appearing to be of the same mindset in the early stages of 2013.

Saying it and actually doing it are, obviously, two different things but this bold and confident Bradford squad do seem to be following their new coach’s orders to the letter.

It has produced a couple of entertaining home wins over Wakefield and Castleford so far but they struggled at Hull FC and the true test of whether their joie de vivre can stand up under the fiercest of pressure will come today from the traditional kings of entertainment.

Saints, admittedly, have yet to truly find their mojo under Nathan Brown having been annihilated by Huddersfield, edging a narrow victory at Widnes and then drawing at home to Hull last weekend yet that only sends out warning signs to Cummins.

“Someone is going to have to cope with the backlash of Saints’ irregular form and we’ve got to make sure that it’s not us,” he said, knowing only last year embarrassed Bradford felt just that when they endured a 54-0 hammering at Langtree Park, ironically straight after the Merseysiders had again drawn with Hull. “We need to go at their weaknesses but most importantly, play to our strengths.

“If we improve but don’t get the result I can still be happy. That is the stage I am still currently at.

“Don’t get me wrong, I want the two points desperately but we just need to improve with the ball a bit more.”

The 36-year old admits being pleased with his return from his first trio of games as a head coach since being promoted from assistant to succeed Mick Potter at the Odsal club that was ravaged by administration last summer.

“If you’d said I’d be sat here with two out of three wins I’d have been more than happy, because I could have been sat with three losses,” said the former Leeds Rhinos stalwart.

“It was unknown really. I knew we’d trained really hard but we’d not really played any games.

“We just need to get a few more under our belt and avoid just floating along.”

Float against Saints and you will get stung invariably, according to Cummins, by the irrepressible England hooker James Roby or their Kiwi Sia Soliola.

“They have class plays but those two stand out for me,” he added.

“Roby has a tremendous work rate and is just unreal. I think that Soliola has stepped up a lot and he is their main go-forward man.”

However, Bradford have already shown that, when their pack performs, they have enough game-breakers of their own in Super League’s joint-leading try-scorer Brett Kearney, maverick half-back Jarrod Sammut and the impressive England Knights second-row Elliott Whitehead to cause no little problems themselves.