Carvell quits Bradford for Hull as Cummins attacks ‘vultures’

WHEN it comes to the sort of character you need to tackle Catalan Dragons, a forward of Garreth Carvell’s durability and physicality is perhaps as good as it gets.

Garreth Carvell.

The ex-England prop is expected to go straight into Hull FC’s line-up for their opening game of the season against the French opponents after his controversial switch from Bradford Bulls was confirmed yesterday.

As fitting as he is to bolster their squad versus the traditionally robust Catalans, Carvell’s arrival could also play a significant part in enhancing the Black and Whites’ hopes of overall success in 2014.

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Granted, when everyone is fully fit – Liam Watts and Chris Green are currently sidelined – they are not short of front-row options given the Exiles Mickey Paea has switched from Hull KR and a trimmed-down Feka Paleaaesina is bidding to make the most of his second chance at Super League.

But Carvell, 32, reuniting with the club at which he initially made his name, is just what new head coach Lee Radford needed.

A no-nonsense, old-style prop in the very same mould as his former Hull team-mate, he is somebody Radford knows he will now be able to look towards to reinforce the messages he is trying to get across.

Hull’s embarrassing play-off exit at Huddersfield last season was the nadir of Peter Gentle’s reign but there had been other spineless displays and his successor is desperate to see pride and passion brought back to the jersey.

Carvell, part of the famous 2005 Challenge Cup-winning side and a veteran of 164 appearances for the Airlie Birds between 2001 and 2008, will bring that.

Of course, Bradford hoped he would deliver the same for them after he signed a two-year deal following his release from Warrington Wolves at the end of last season.

Their financial problems, however, having entered administration again recently, offered Carvell a way out even if the manner of his retreat is frowned upon by the West Yorkshire club.

Tellingly, there was no comment from him or Radford in yesterday’s brief statement, perhaps fearing reprisals from a clearly aggrieved Bradford already antagonised by Hull making public their desire to recruit the vastly-experienced forward last week.

However, it did not work as Bradford announced last night that they would, indeed, be taking legal action insisting they had no alternative after failing to come “to an understanding that would work out for all”.

They are seeking guidance from the RFL although the governing body has accepted Hull’s registration of the player.

Bradford coach Francis Cummins yesterday spoke of “vultures flying around” putting pressure on his players.

On the Carvell situation, he said: “It’s over to the clubs to sort something out or the club (Bradford) has to take some retribution.

“But if someone walks out on you they walk out on you don’t they? So that’s it.”

It is the second time he has lost a valued prop in such circumstances, Wales captain Craig Kopczak leaving for Huddersfield Giants when Bradford went into administration 18 months ago.

The departure leaves them short but Cummins did see Danny Bridge, the 21-year-old back-rower who made two Super League appearances for Warrington last season, arrive on a month’s loan from the Cheshire club yesterday.

The younger brother of Warrington’s former England centre Chris Bridge, he could come straight into contention for Sunday’s opener against Castleford Tigers.

Radford, meanwhile, is looking ahead to the more pressing matter of tomorrow night’s encounter at KC Stadium.

“Catalan have always come with big physical guys up front and they’ll do that again,” he said.

“We have to out-match them physically for a duration of time. If you do that you give yourself a chance against them.

“You only have to look at Huddersfield and Wigan last week to see how important having a dominant pack is. Ben Pomeroy is a player I’d have liked next year and Catalan have done a great job in getting him out of his (Cronulla) contract a year early.

“He’s big and strong and I cannot wait for the match-up between him and Kirk Yeaman this week because there aren’t many more physical centres than those two anywhere and it’s going to be a great contest.

“Catalan have also booked a chartered flight straight into Humberside airport, I believe, to help address their away form which has hampered them.

“They are really focussed on the first game of the year, as are we,” he said.

It is also, of course, the 34-year-old’s first game as a head coach after being promoted from assistant following Gentle’s sacking in September.

“I’m looking forward to that,” he added.

“And I’m looking for a bit of fluency from us.

“We’ve been scratchy in some of the friendlies but I’ve seen some top-draw stuff from us on the training field and I want to transfer some of that on to the pitch.

“I don’t just want to see us transfer it on there, but do it for a period of time too. And show a bit of grit.”

Carvell, who played in the 2006 Grand Final for Hull and has signed a one-year deal with the option of a further 12 months, will certainly offer the latter.