New deals begin Bulls rebuild
Lee Gaskell and Dale Ferguson have become the first Bradford Bulls players to commit their futures to the club, whose relegation from First Utility Super League was confirmed yesterday with their 52-26 defeat at Huddersfield Giants.
Bulls coach James Lowes is resigned to having to rebuild his side for their drop into the Kingstone Press Championship.
Lowes, whose appointment as the successor to Francis Cummins came too late to halt their slide out of the top flight, has drawn up a list of potential replacements and has received a boost from the decision of Gaskell and Ferguson to stay loyal to him.
Both players joined Bradford on the eve of the season on two-year deals from Salford Red Devils and Huddersfield respectively and today signed fresh contracts tying them to the club until the end of 2016, by which time the Bulls hope to be back in Super League.
"I wanted to stay with Bradford regardless and am really excited by Jimmy's long-term plans for the club," said Gaskell, 23, a stand-off who began his Super League career with hometown club St Helens.
"It looks as though there could be a host of new faces coming in and it would be nice to see a few of the other boys stay put too.
"I just want to be able to go out there, give my all and perform in Bulls colours because I love it here."
Second row forward Ferguson, 26, who played for Scotland in the 2013 World Cup, has made only four appearances for Bradford so far due to injury and is keen to justify his signing.
"I have had an extremely frustrating season but the Bulls have really stood by me," said the former Wakefield forward.
"I owe a huge amount to everyone involved with the club and I am determined to pay back the faith shown in me.
"I am really looking forward to the future and am relishing the challenges ahead."
Lowes said: "Both Lee and Dale are of high quality and we believe it is vital to our future success to retain as many members of our current squad as possible.
"Lee is going to be a key figure for us in the middle of the park and, as we have seen this season, he can be very versatile.
"Dale's attitude is great - he is fantastic to have around the place. He is certainly a team player and I am excited about what he will bring to the party next year and beyond.
"This is a very strong club, with a bright future ahead, and, to those doubting that, I believe this announcement is a real statement of intent.
"We are in the process of building a squad for next season and this is just the start for us."