Potter: Play-off spot would be up there
Mick Potter reckons taking Bradford into the play-offs would rank alongside any of his previous achievements in coaching and he is hoping to keep the dream alive tomorrow night when the Bulls host Hull KR.
The Australian was named Super League coach of the year after guiding Catalan Dragons to a third-place finish in 2008 and he took St Helens to the Grand Final in each of his two seasons at Knowsley Road before moving to Odsal.
But he says masterminding Bradford’s first top-eight finish for four years would give him the greatest pleasure of all because of the trauma the team have gone through over the last four months, culminating in the loss of six competition points.
“For me it would be an achievement above and beyond what I thought the players were able to do,” he said.
“I thought just getting in the eight without the points deduction was going to be a good achievement - some experts were tipping us to finish last - so it would be right up there with some of the stuff that happened over at the Catalans.”
The Bulls are still gripped by uncertainty as they await the outcome of the latest takeover bid and, although the players have continued to receive their wages throughout the crisis, Potter says it has had an unsettling effect.
“It’s been such a drawn-out process and so draining for the players,” said the coach, who - along with his assistants Francis Cummins and Lee St Hilaire - is continuing to work unpaid after being made redundant.
“They don’t talk about anything else when they’re together. I’m not sure if they continue that once they go back to their families but it’s a big part of their lives. It just saps the energy out of you.
“It’s hard with the situation that’s bubbling in the background for them to feel good about their rugby league but they’re a credit to themselves and their families.
“The coaching staff also need a big rap for how they’ve stayed positive and how they’ve helped me stay positive in this situation. Francis and Lee are coming in more than they should be.
“I’ve had more satisfying days this year than I did last year as far as results and the way the players are striving to do their best.”
The Bulls’ points deduction enabled Hull KR to leapfrog them in the table into eighth place, but victory tomorrow would draw them level with the Robins with three games left of the regular season.
“It seems like it’s going to happen every week from now on and potentially it brings out the best in everyone, although hopefully not Hull KR,” Potter added.
“It’s an opportunity to go for another week because we’re playing the team directly above us and it either levels us or it sends them away from us.
“The game will have a massive impact this weekend. It should make for a fantastic game.”
Carnegie Challenge Cup finalists Leeds Rhinos will be aiming to keep alive their hopes of a top-four finish when they host Widnes Vikings at Headingley.
They are two points behind Catalan Dragons, who go to Hull FC on Sunday, and coach Brian McDermott is also looking to take some form into their Wembley showdown with Warrington Wolves at the end of the month.
“It is important that we start to build some momentum in our performances, as we did before the semi-final, and that starts this Friday against Widnes,” he said.
“We had a good win at their place earlier this season but they have beaten Wigan this season, so they have quality within their ranks to cause teams problems if you are not on your game.”
In tomorrow’s other game, Huddersfield Giants will be seeking to build on their win over Catalan, which ended a five-match losing run, when they go to Salford City Reds.
“The reality is that you’re only as good as your last game and in the last game we showed some improvements but, if we don’t keep improving, then we will become stuck again,” said coach Paul Anderson.
The Reds will again be without a specialist scrum-half after Marc Sneyd, who was given his chance following Matty Smith’s move to Wigan Warriors, was ruled out for the rest of the season with ankle-ligament damage and assistant coach Sean Long’s comeback was put on hold by a wrist injury.
Salford are also resigned to being without centre Joel Moon for the rest of the campaign after he underwent a hernia operation this week.