Tom Olbison: Competition for places will help Bulls

Tom Olbison believes his position as the longest-serving member of James Lowes’ new-look squad will count for little next season.

The Bradford Bulls back-rower, aged 23, is a product of the club’s academy, having joined as a scholarship player before making his first-team debut back in 2009.

However, despite boasting vast experience, Olbison admits he is facing fierce competition for places in the Bradford pack.

“There are going to be a lot of forwards available to Jimmy next year, so it is up to us to work hard and earn spots,” said Olbison.

“It is then very much about maintaining your place in the team, which will not be easy with plenty of quality players fighting it out to replace you.

“There has always been competition for places during my time here and next year will be no different, it certainly improves performance and will be healthy for us.

“The new lads have impressed so far, they have got stuck in and shown us what they are made of. I think it is fair to say there are no ‘undroppables’ in this team.

“There are a lot of younger players coming into the squad, so the more experienced members will have to make sure they are ready should an opportunity arise next term.

“I feel my performance levels picked up towards the back end of last year and I hope to continue that through into pre-season and into the Kingstone Press Championship campaign.”

The forward enjoyed his most prolific campaign to date last term, scoring seven tries in 27 appearances in the famous red, amber and black.

Olbison has spoken of the ‘James Lowes effect’, coupled with a challenging pre-season schedule in place, and how he believes it could pay dividends in 2015.

“Jimmy (Lowes) came in, I started running better lines and was reaping the rewards of the work of the likes of Lee Gaskell, who began to flourish towards the back end of the season,” he added.

“I felt at times we were lacking the fitness levels to compete for the full 80 minutes but, next year, we should have no problem with that.

“We are improving both physically and mentally under Jimmy and I am sure we will see the benefits throughout the course of next season.”