Time for Lynch and Hull to deliver as Bulls loom large

As a much-loved and well-respected former captain of Bradford Bulls, it breaks Andy Lynch’s heart to see what has happened at Odsal.

Nevertheless, as current captain of Hull FC, his priorities now lie firmly elsewhere so it will matter little if he ruins the play-off hopes of his old club tomorrow night.

Lynch makes his first return to Bradford since being surprisingly sold last September.

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He admits having no inkling of the scale of financial mess that was about to descend on the four-time Super League champions who have been in administration since June 26.

However, in hindsight, it should not have been too much of a surprise to anyone; no club sells their esteemed leader – on and off the pitch – best player and most reliable professional unless they are in real dire straits.

Some people initially baulked at the £100,000 figure for a prop who had plenty of mileage on the clock and was about to turn 32.

However, in reality, Hull FC owner Adam Pearson possibly sealed the deal of the season.

Lynch’s durability is second to none and he is, yet again, one of the leading statistical performers in Super League.

Only James Roby has made more than his 3,171 metres while, with a huge 471 carries, he trails just the tireless St Helens hooker and London’s Craig Gower.

Given Lynch is among the top 10 tacklers and off-loaders in Super League too, it was no surprise Pearson quickly extended his two-year deal by another 12 months.

Yet, as we approach the business end of the season, everyone is seeking dividends and Lynch himself knows his side must now deliver.

An embarrassing 42-16 loss at Widnes Vikings – after a terrific win over Catalan – has all but ruined Hull’s hopes of a top four berth and it may yet see them miss out on catching champions Leeds Rhinos in fifth.

“That was very disappointing and we’ve had two weeks to dwell on it,” Lynch admitted to the Yorkshire Post, with the Challenge Cup Final giving them an unwanted rest.

“That’s the worst thing that can happen when you put in a performance like that; you want to put everything right straightaway and correct all we did wrong against Widnes.

“They deserved to win but, no disrespect to them, we didn’t have the right mental toughness or attitude to win that game.

“We’ll need that at Bradford on Saturday as it’s going to be a hard fixture against one of the form teams in Super League.

“We need to pick everything up and get a run of form going. We’ve got two games to do that and can’t afford to keep winning one then losing another.

“In three weeks it’s the play-offs when we only get one crack. We need to pick up or we’ll be out.”

Lynch’s assertion about Bradford is correct; they have shrugged off all the uncertainty about their future and a six-point reduction to climb narrowly above Wakefield into the final play-off spot of eighth.

Lynch, who spent seven years at Odsal, said: “I was talking to one of the Bradford lads the other day and he was saying if they get in the play-offs it’d probably be bigger than getting top four.

“It’d be a massive achievement. With everything going on it must have affected them but they’ve stuck together as a group.

“They’ll have thought everyone else is against them so they’ll stick it out. I feel for the players and coaches as it’s not down to them they are in this position. They are being punished for what’s happened before. But they are showing everyone what they are capable of, proving people wrong.

“We need to get two wins and so do they so it’s a massive game.

“That’s why it’s picked for Sky TV and I reckon it’ll be top class.

“It was one of the first fixtures I looked for when the list came out but with it being second last game I just thought it’s ages away and didn’t think about it.

“But now it’s here I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone and I can’t wait to get out there.”

It looks like Bradford will be rescued with Omar Khan’s bid the likeliest to be accepted by the administrator and the RFL.

But Lynch added: “I think it’s strange what has happened.

“When a team normally goes into administration the first thing to go are players.

“They’re normally sold to cover debts but that’s not happened at Bradford so something is going on that we don’t know about.

“The deadline has been pushed back and pushed back again.

“I suppose it’s a good sign, though, that no players are going.

“Hopefully, it’s a sign someone with some money is going to come in and take over and they’ll be in Super League next season.

“I’ve no doubt they should be; Bradford are a massive club and you can’t have one rule for one and another for the rest.

“Crusaders stayed in as did Wakefield and I don’t think anyone really wants to see Bradford demoted.

“I spent a lot of time there and have a lot of good friends at Bradford. I know they’ll come back stronger from this too.”

But, first, it is Hull who need to demonstrate their own strength and fortitude.

Few fancy them to reach the Grand Final but signing players of Lynch’s calibre was designed to take them to such occasions.

He famously missed out on Bulls’ 2005 triumph when Brian Noble signed Adrian Morley from Sydney City Roosters on a short-term deal, but Lynch feels this Hull side can help him right that.

“Leeds showed last year that a team in the bottom four of the eight can push on,” he said.

“It’s a bit like the Challenge Cup now; we know we’ll need to win four games to lift the title so that’s four massive performances.

“We know when we perform we can beat any team on our day – we’ve shown that this year – it’s just getting that performance out of us for four games running.

“It’s something we’ve spoken about and it’s something we have to rectify quickly.

“We’ve got two tough games to start with – Castleford at home next week before the play-offs – and Bradford is where the work begins.”