Six Bradford academy stars sign first-team contracts

Bradford Bulls have handed SIX Academy players first-team contracts for 2017.

James Bentley, Liam Kirk, Ross Oakes, Brandon Pickersgill, Josh Rickett and Brandan Wilkinson have all penned professional contracts with the club.

All six have worked their way up through Bulls Youth system and will begin training with the senior team at the end of the season. The group follow in the footsteps of last year’s graduates Ethan Ryan and Joe Lumb, with the former recently signing a new two-year deal.

Pickersgill, Bentley and Kirk featured in the pre-season friendly against Castleford Tigers in January, which saw Kirk cross the whitewash in the win. Whilst Oakes has featured twice in the first team in 2016 in victories against Dewsbury Rams and Workington Town.

“I’m extremely delighted for them,” said academy coach Leigh Beattie. “It is a long and tough journey for them from the Under 16s to Under 19s and now to the first team.

“These lads have worked extremely hard to get where they are now and deserve everything they’ve got.

“There is another crop of lads coming up, plus another crop after that, so at the minute the Youth system is looking really good.”

“A lot of hard work has gone into the Youth setup by everybody at the club,” said head of youth John Bastian.

“Now, we are starting to see the growth of junior players coming through at Bradford Bulls. That is credit to the Board of Directors and it is credit to the Youth staff and the young players for working so hard.

“Bradford Bulls has got a huge history of producing young players who have been developed in the club and that process has started to rebuild again. The more players we get through to our first grade squad the better for Bradford Bulls and the better for rugby league.”