Purtell ready for Etihad return
Adrian Purtell's amazing comeback from a heart attack will be complete this weekend when he returns to the scene of his major scare.
When he runs out for Bradford Bulls in the Magic Weekend extravaganza at Manchester's Etihad Stadium, memories will come flooding back of the heart attack he suffered exactly 12 months earlier.
The 28-year-old Australian three-quarter fell ill during the post-match meal following the Bulls' defeat by Leeds Rhinos and became worse on the way home from Manchester.
The team coach was forced to stop on the hard shoulder of the M62 motorway before making a detour for Purtell to undergo emergency surgery.
However, he not only made a full recovery but has managed to get his career back on track.
Purtell has been inundated with reminders of the anniversary but insists it will be business as usual on Sunday.
"It's probably other people who are thinking about it more than me," he told Press Association Sport.
"It's just another ground but it will be great to run out at such a fabulous stadium again.
"I remember the atmosphere last year and hopefully I'll be able to enjoy more of that after the game this time."
Purtell, who was just 10 games into a three-year contract when he suffered the heart attack, was able to start light training last November and was given the all-clear to resume his career earlier this year.
He has not missed a game since making his comeback in the Bulls' win over Hull KR on March 17 and has started their last 10 league and cup matches.
"For the first couple of matches I was probably a bit nervous and anxious but I've played 10 now and I'm pretty confident with where my body is at," Purtell said.
"I feel great. I was lucky to have a thorough pre-season and the strength and conditioning staff got me in the best shape they could.
"It worked out well because they had a few injuries when I was ready to come back and I got an opportunity to get back into Super League straight away.
"I'd say I'm in the best shape I've ever been but I am getting older so I feel the bumps and bruises a bit more."
Purtell, who is now involved in fund-raising in his role as Yorkshire's ambassador for Heart Research UK, was given a rapturous ovation by 8,000 fans in March and can expect a bumper reception from 30,000 on Sunday.
"The support I've received from the rugby league community has been overwhelming," he said.
"People, strangers in the street, were coming up to me to offer their support and it really helped me on the road to recovery."
Purtell is confident he can keep focused on the match as the Bulls prepare to take on Huddersfield Giants in another local derby.
Bradford became the first team to defeat the Giants this year, winning 43-18 at the John Smith's Stadium in March, but their opponents are currently sitting second in the table.
Purtell said: "They've had a really great year and thoroughly deserve to be where they are in the table.
"For us we've started to get back on the right track with our win at Salford last Friday but this will be a massive test for us and we'll probably have to produce our best performance of the season to get the win."