Purtell poised to return
All eyes will be on Bradford Bulls’ Australian centre Adrian Purtell tomorrow as he prepares to make his comeback from a lay-off of almost 10 months.
Purtell has not played since he suffered a heart attack on the way home from the Bulls’ Magic Weekend defeat by Leeds Rhinos last May but he was this week given the all-clear by a specialist to resume his career.
He has been included in Francis Cummins’ 19-man squad for the home game against Hull KR and looks certain to feature off the bench.
Bradford also have the services of England academy captain John Bateman, who has completed his recovery from a shoulder reconstruction, and Cummins admits their return could not have been better timed, with Matt Diskin, Matty Blythe and Jamie Langley all ruled out of tomorrow’s game and Chev Walker rated doubtful.
“It’s not ideal as we have a small squad,” said Cummins, who has also called up youngsters Jobe Murphy and Sam Wood as cover.
“We have quite a gap with our young players because, although they are all very good, they are very, very young.
“John Bateman played a full game in the Under-19s last week, which makes him ready now, and it was always the plan to have him available for the Hull KR game.
“I would have probably used him sparingly but it may be that the situation will force a change in that now. That’s a positive, as is the fact that Adrian Purtell will be available.”
Purtell has been unable to make his return with partner club Dewsbury because of visa restrictions, but Cummins says he has no qualms about bringing him straight back into Super League.
“If Adrian wasn’t ready – if there was any doubt about his heart – then I wouldn’t be putting him out there,” he said.
“But the specialists have said to him, ‘You’ve got to forget that you’ve had the heart attack’, so it’s only down to match fitness for him now.”
While Bradford are down to the bare bones, the availability of hooker Josh Hodgson, who has served a one-match ban, and the return to fitness of utility back Craig Hall give Hull KR coach Craig Sandercock the option to change a winning team as they look for a third straight victory.
Castleford Tigers are without winger Justin Carney and second rower Weller Hauraki through suspension for tomorrow’s other game against London Broncos.
Tigers coach Ian Millward hopes to have Jake Webster and Lee Gilmour back from injury to take their places and has also called up full-back or winger Richard Owen and prop Jonathan Walker, who both played for Keighley last weekend, as well as prop Daniel Fleming for what would be his Super League debut.
London are set to welcome back winger or full-back Michael Robertson, who has sat out the Broncos’ last three matches, for a match that marks Luke Dorn’s 150th appearance for the club.
The 31-year-old Dorn is in his second spell with the Londoners, having made his Broncos debut against Warrington Wolves in 2005, and is excited about reaching the milestone.
“To get to 149 is pretty crazy,” he said. “When I came here I originally signed a two-year contract. I was 21 and thought two years and I’d be back off to Australia.
“I’m so proud with every milestone I achieve with the club and I hold it very dearly.”
The bottom-of-the-table Broncos go to Castleford in search of only their second win of the season.
“We’ll get there,” Dorn said. “As long as we keep working hard, we’ll find form. We have good people with a good attitude and, as long as we stay committed to the cause, we’ll be all right.”