Cummins to be his own man

New Bradford head coach Francis Cummins admits he owes a debt of gratitude to former England coach Tony Smith and his older brother Brian but insists he will do the job his way after taking the reins of the Bulls.

Cummins to be his own man

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Francis Cummins will use his own approaches at Odsal

As widely expected, the 35-year-old Cummins was promoted from the role of assistant when Bradford announced their successor to Australian Mick Potter. Potter was the first choice of new owner Omar Khan and chairman Gerry Sutcliffe but, when he opted to return to Australia, they accepted his recommendation to appoint his right-hand man.

Cummins served a four-year apprenticeship at his former club Leeds, initially under Tony Smith and then Brian McClennan, before working under Potter for the last two seasons and says he is now ready to take charge of his own team. "I learned a lot through Tony Smith," he said.

"I'll never be Tony Smith and wouldn't want to be - it would drive me mad - but we had a great partnership. Under Brian McClennan I was given a free rein and I was able to do more with the team and, then working with Mick, it was different again.

"We were singing off the same hymn sheet but I was able to put my point across and I think that stood me in good stead."

Cummins' potential as a coach was recognised by the Rugby Football League when they singled him out for a trip to Australia, where he picked up tips from a host of famous coaches including Brian Smith, older brother of Tony, who was Bradford's head coach at the start of Super League in 1996.

"I've got three or four mentors as coaches I can speak to but it was good to talk to some other coaches to see how they see it," Cummins said. "It was really good of the RFL to send me on that and it needs to continue.

"I'm obviously part of the 'Smith mafia' and Brian was very generous with his time. He just knew what questions I wanted to ask. In fact, he did most of the talking, I just sat there and nodded half the time."

Cummins, who has been give a three-year contract, says his first job will be to persuade as many of the 17 players out of contract as he can to stay with the club.

"We've got 16 players contracted and we'll hopefully be sitting down with the rest of the players in the next few days," he said. "Hopefully the current crop will continue and also there will be a few young players moving up as well. There are kids here who you've not heard of yet but you will do if I can do my job correctly and bring them through."

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