Bradford coach James Lowes slammed the Super 8s format after his side failed to secure promotion.
A 24-16 defeat by Wakefield in Saturday’s inaugural £1million match means the Bulls must compete in the Championship for a second season, with the Wildcats holding on to their top-flight status.
Bradford chairman Marc Green kept the team full-time following their relegation from Super League at the end of last season, but Lowes hinted in the post-match press conference that they may now opt to go part-time.
“If this is the future of rugby league I won’t be in it,” said the former Great Britain hooker. “I just don’t think it’s the way forward for the game.
“We’ve got 17 blokes down there who could potentially lose their jobs in one game after they’ve worked so hard to put themselves in a good position.
“I’m not being bitter because of this game, I’ve said this from the start and this confirms my point. I don’t think it benefits anybody.
“You are putting two teams under so much pressure and there is no need to do it.
“I’m proud to be associated with this group of players, it’s a young set of kids who are thrown into situation shouldn’t be in.
“It’s not guaranteed that we will remain full-time unfortunately. Marc is fantastic, but we’re limited by a budget.”
Former Bradford coach Brian Smith, who was brought over from Australia with the brief of keeping Wakefield in Super League, had some sympathy for his opposite number.
“I’ve tried to refrain from talking about this but, even though we’ve won, it’s got knobs on it,” Smith said of the system. “All I can tell you is from within it’s thoroughly debilitating.
“It’s almost impossible to talk about next season. The other eight clubs have been able to have a running start on us and they’re going to get another running start next season.
“It’s so much harder for clubs that don’t have the finances to compete with those at the top. It’s like going to the Olympics in the 400 metres and starting at the 450m mark.”
The game looked to heading for a predictable conclusion when Wakefield established a 12-0 lead early in the second half, but Bradford hit back with tries from wingers Danny Williams and Matty Blythe to set up a grandstand finish.
Hull-bound Danny Washbrook and Bulls skipper Adrian Purtell then traded further tries before hooker Scott Moore, who made a surprise return from a ruptured biceps, went over for the clinching try a minute from the end.
Smith described his feelings as “a celebration of relief” and warned that Wakefield still have much to do if they are to avoid getting themselves in the same situation in 12 months’ time.
“It’s not a champagne day - we’ve not won a trophy - but we’ve just played a team that was desperate to get themselves out of the level they’ve been at and dump us back in it,” he said.
“But we managed to get there, despite everything. We’ve had guys who quit and went home, guys with long-term injuries and had guys who lost their personal discipline and left us to carry the can.
“I’ve got nothing but admiration for their character. They did a fantastic job for their club today.
“But it doesn’t change anything. We were way behind the rest of the Super League teams in 2015 and for Wakefield to celebrate today is certainly okay, but the job is pretty much the same, it needs a complete rebuild.
“I’m pretty sure there are enough people in this club that care who are going to make sure things will be different in the future.”
Smith is unsure whether he will be part of the future as he prepares to sit down with chairman Michael Carter to discuss his position.
“I have responsibilities at home and opportunities here,” he said. “Michael and I said we wouldn’t sit down to talk about the future before today was over.
“But, if I’ve had a better time than this, I can’t remember when. It’s been so enjoyable. I feel honoured and proud to have been the Wakefield coach. I’m tickled pink.”