Langley’s milestone moment against mentor

Jamie Langley
Jamie Langley
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THERE is one resounding moment from Jamie Langley’s debut that the Bradford Bulls custodian will never forget.

It has held him in good stead ever since and 11 years on from that day, as he now contemplates his landmark 250th appearance for the club, it still raises a smile.

Getting an ear-bashing from an experienced England international who was renowned for his nasty streak is, admittedly, not a nice thought.

But Langley concedes Scott Naylor’s vitriol aimed at him during Bradford’s win at Wakefield was a pivotal moment in 2002.

“I remember coming off the bench for about half-an-hour in the second half,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“It all went by in a blur. It doesn’t seem like two minutes ago but it’s a fair few years now and nearly 250 games.

“I came on at left back-row and made a couple of off-loads.

“One came off but the other hit the ground and I remember Scott Naylor giving me a right rollicking for turning it over.

“He had a proper go at me and, from then on, I’ve always thought twice about slipping the ball out!”

The man who handed Langley that first taste of Super League in a Bradford team that were reigning champions was Brian Noble.

Fittingly, perhaps, the ex-Great Britain chief has recently taken over at Salford, the team against which Langley marks his latest milestone this evening.

“I’d been promoted to the first-team squad that season, given a squad number and was knocking on the door all year,” he recalled.

“Nobby kept telling me I’m not far off and to keep biding my time and I eventually got a couple of games. I think they were both against Wakefield.

“I had to be patient but I was coming into a team which was quite literally full of internationals from one to 17.

“It was a tough side to break into but, at the same time, I was learning plenty from them training every day with such high quality players.

“I wasn’t driving at the time so I was coming in in the car every day with Paul Anderson and Lee Radford plus a young dummy-half from Cas called Gaz Stanley.

“They took me under their wing and helped me out a lot.”

Langley forced his way into that illustrious side and would go on to feature in two Grand Finals, including the victorious 2005 vintage against Leeds Rhinos, as well as a couple of World Club Challenge triumphs under Noble.

His former coach went on to rescue Wigan from potential relegation in 2006 but, after leaving the Crusaders at the end of 2010, had been out of the game for two-and-a-half years until joining Salford last month.

They are currently bottom of the league but with ambitious owner Dr Marwan Koukash vowing to spend big, Noble will be hopeful of turning them into one of the game’s dominant powers.

“I think Nobby’s just been waiting for the right opportunity,” explained Langley.

“He’s been doing TV, having a little break from the game and has probably come back refreshed.

“He’ll do a good job at Salford and with Doctor Koukash saying he has money to spend they could be a force soon.

“Nobby has a reputation for turning clubs around. One of his main strengths is he is really meticulous. He really goes to town on his preparation and you go into every game feeling 100 per cent prepared for it. He’s a good motivator and seems to be able to get the best out of players. He fills you with confidence.”

Langley, 29, admits there was a chance he could have followed Noble to Wigan after his former coach raided Odsal in the summer of 2006 for Bradford team-mate Stuart Fielden in a world-record £450,000 deal.

“The season after Stu had gone to Wigan there was a little bit of interest about moving over and a couple of people even told me I’d already signed,” he joked.

“But it never really came to anything and I was always contracted to Bradford.

“I’ve always been really happy here and have never wanted to move even when it’s gone from the highs through its down spells.

“I’ve had opportunities to leave but have always wanted to make sure Bulls got back to their rightful place and, at this moment, it looks like the club is going to do that. It’s a personal goal of mine and I’ve never wanted to jump ship.”

Indeed, Langley, who went on to represent England and Great Britain himself, has consistently stayed loyal even though Bradford almost went bust last season and have failed to reach the play-offs since 2008.

Sat in seventh spot, they hope to arrest that slump this term, although they have lost their last three league games and were left gutted by a Challenge Cup exit at London Broncos a week ago.

“We’ve played a few strong sides in recent weeks – Leeds, Wigan and Warrington – and results haven’t gone our way while we have picked up more injuries, too,” he explained, Huddersfield Giants forward Jacob Fairbank coming in on loan yesterday to help alleviate those problems.

“It was a really disappointing result losing in the cup but that’s done now and we have to focus on the league again. We need a strong performance on Friday.”

Langley, who has been acting as an emergency prop this term, concedes being “quite stressed” as contract negotiations get underway for next season.

However, after his unstinting service so far, it is hard to envisage this relentless Bull striding around anywhere else.