Bradford Bulls boss Mark Dunning eager for Greece showdown

Coach Mark Dunning says Bradford Bulls’ pre-World Cup clash with Greece should provide great experience for his players as well as a valuable work-out for the tournament debutants.

The fixture, fixed up with the help of Bradford Chairman Nigel Wood’s International Rugby League connections (he was a board member of 18 years has been both chair and chief executive of the organisation) takes place at Odsal on Saturday (3pm).

“I got in touch with the IRL and asked if any of the competing nations were looking for a warm-up match,” said Wood.

“Greece said yes and we are very happy to accommodate them.” 

Dunning says it will act as both a full stop for the season that has just finished and the start of preparations for a 2023 campaign, in which he hopes to mount a bid for the play-offs.

Dunning, a long-serving member of the Bulls’ backroom team, replaced John Kear, initially on an interim basis, in April, having been his assistant, and in July was handed the role on a contract until the end of next year.

Bradford finished ninth and are currently reshaping their squad, with Chester Butler, the Huddersfield centre or second rower who has been on loan at the club, Dewsbury winger Ben Blackmore, Sheffield halfback Tom Holmes and London Broncos forward Brad Foster already signed.

None are in line to face Steve Georgallis’ Greece, with Dunning explaining: “Obviously they haven’t officially joined us yet, so it will be existing players plus a few youngsters, for whom it’s a great opportunity.

“I envisage a good few of them pushing for a place in the first team next season, and some will have the chance to impress.

“Obviously the timing of the game makes it different from a normal match in terms of team selection, and there are a few players who are either away on breaks or resting and recuperating.

“But we will put out a decent side and one which I think will be capable of giving Greece the kind of test they are looking for.

“It will also be a more-than-worthwhile work-out for us, with some very good players set to be on show for the opposition.”

Greece are among England’s Group A rivals and will open their campaign against France at the Eco-Power Stadium, Doncaster on Monday October 17. 

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