Bradford Bulls coach James Lowes put the finishing touches to his backroom staff and announced five more signings ahead of their 2015 Championship campaign at a fans' forum last night.
St Helens prop Paul Clough, who has spent most of the 2014 Super League season on loan at Widnes, heads the latest list of new faces, which takes the Bulls' total number of signings to 14 and Lowes' squad up to 29. Clough, 26, a former Grand Finalist with Saints, has signed a two-year deal.
"Paul is another fantastic signing for the club," Lowes said. "I think he will be a real leader for us in the pack next season, while offering a lot of guidance for some of our younger guys."
Bradford have also signed centre or second rower Jean Philippe-Baile from Catalan Dragons, prop Samir Tahraoui from Whitehaven and utility forward Lucas Walshaw from Wakefield while second rower Jay Pitts has agreed a two-year deal to make his move from Hull permanent following a loan spell.
Walshaw and Tahraoui have also agreed two-year contracts, while Baile has signed a one-year deal with an option of a second season at the Provident Stadium.
Meanwhile, club captain Matt Diskin, who is to retire at the end of the season, has been appointed as the club's Under-19s coach while former Featherstone head coach John Bastian joins the Bulls as head of youth and the the club have recruited England's strength and conditioning coach Gary Dempsey.
Bradford Bulls have signed New Zealand-born three-quarter Chris Ulugia, who arrives as the ninth new addition to James Lowes' squad for 2015.
The 22-year-old, who can operate at centre, full-back and on the wing, has tonight put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the club.
Ulugia joins forwards Dave Petersen and Karl Davies in arriving from Queensland Intrust Super Cup side Mackay Cutters.
And the former Parramatta Eels junior says he cannot wait to get started, insisting he wants to make a big impact in the red, amber and black of Bradford.
This is a huge opportunity for me and I am delighted to be joining what is one of the most famous rugby league clubs on the planet. I cannot wait to arrive in England and get pre-season training underway, alongside some of my current team-mates. I used to play with Jake Mullaney, so I know him too. That will certainly help with the transition, in terms of getting used to the place and what not. I am aware of the club's aims for next year and I can assure the Bradford supporters that my eyes are solely fixed on helping the Bulls achieve promotion back up into Super League.
Head coach James Lowes insists Ulugia’s capture represents a shrewd piece of business by the club, the Australian-based player becoming the 24th member of the Bradford boss’ new-look squad.
Power and pace are just two of the attributes which the Cutters star will bring to the Provident Stadium next term, according to Lowes.
Chris is a great signing, coming from a club which boasts a fantastic pool of talent. This is a great opportunity for Chris and, having spoken to him, I know how determined he is to hit the ground running. Chris is another addition to an already blossoming squad and is a player whose pace and power will certainly prove beneficial next year.
Ulugia is due to arrive in the UK early next month, prior to the start of pre-season training.
Adrian Purtell has become the latest Bradford Bull to commit his future to the club, after today agreeing a new one-year deal.
The Australian 29-year-old is the fifteenth member of James Lowes' current squad to re-sign ahead of the 2015 campaign, taking the Bulls' new-look roster to 23.
The former NRL star, who enjoyed stints with Canberra Raiders and Penrith Panthers, has scored 10 tries in 21 appearances this term.
According to Purtell, agreeing to stay at the Provident Stadium – for at least a further 12 months – was an “easy” decision to make.
I am very grateful to the club and Jimmy (Lowes) for giving me the opportunity to remain a Bradford player for another year.
I see the one-year deal as a launchpad, ahead of what is going to be a massive year for me personally.
I cannot speak on behalf of the rest of the team, but am desperate to ensure an instant return to Super League next year. I feel as though we have a point to prove and things to put right.
A fantastic squad is being put together behind the scenes, which I believe will give us a great chance of achieving just that.
The board and Jimmy have put together a large squad, packed full of power, pace and quality. I think we will be difficult to beat next year.
Head coach James Lowes has paid tribute to Purtell's intention to help ensure an immediate return to the sport's top flight.
Lowes says the three-quarter's vast experience will prove priceless ahead of the Bulls' debut season in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Adrian is a very experienced player, who boasts bags of quality,” said the Bradford boss. He was very keen to stay and I know how determined he is to play a part in what we hope to achieve next year. Adrian represents another fantastic addition to what is already a promising squad. I cannot wait to get going with pre-season training in October.
Bradford Bulls have announced they have signed Australian Karl Davies on a two-year deal with the club.
The 22-year-old front-rower, known down under as 'The Lumberjack', arrives as head coach James Lowes' eighth new addition for 2015.
Davies has spent this season with Queensland Intrust Super Cup giants Mackay Cutters and is planning to make a big impact at the Provident Stadium.
I believe I can bring a lot to Bradford and am very excited about coming over to ply my trade with the Bulls,” said the 6ft 3ins 17-stone prop forward.
I am an explosive and aggressive type of player, with a strong work ethic.
Next season will act as a fresh start for the club and I am looking forward to getting my teeth into the Championship before, hopefully, playing in Super League the year after.
The squad being put together looks very strong, there are some fantastic names on board and we are going to take some stopping.
Coach Lowes is looking forward to having former West Belconnen Warriors talent Davies on board until at least the end of 2016.
The Bradford boss believe Davies' “unique style” will see him quickly become a fans' favourite.
I am very pleased to have secured Karl for the next two years. He is an explosive prop and he is someone I know will excite our supporters.
You need good, solid front-rowers in any leading side and Australia seems to deliver them. They know the job and do it well.
He is a young and very talented individual and I like what I have seen of him.
He is eager to get across and get started and I believe he has the potential to be a good player for us.
Davies is due to arrive in the UK early next month, before starting pre-season training with his new team-mates.
Three-quarter Ryan Shaw has agreed a deal to become Bradford Bulls' seventh new signing for next season, taking head coach James Lowes' 2015 roster to 21.
The talented youngster began the year as a Warrington Wolves player before departing for Barrow Raiders, where he has gone on to score nine tries in 25 appearances for the Kingstone Press Championship outfit.
Goal-kicker Shaw, who today penned a one-year contract at the Provident Stadium, has previously enjoyed spells with London Broncos, Castleford Tigers, Leigh Centurions and Swinton Lions.
And the former England Academy star is planning on making a name for himself in Bulls colours.
“This is a massive opportunity for me to really prove myself and kick on. I have signed for the next 12 months but want to ensure a much longer stay. The only way I will be able to do that is by earning another contract through hard work. I am very committed to that and want to be a part of the side for years to come.
“I prefer to play in the centres but have experience across the backline, so am able to offer the club a level of versatility. I can play all across the backline which gives me a better opportunity to get in the team. I picked up a lot during my time with Warrington and have enjoyed a taste of Super League, which I want to experience again. With the way the Bradford squad is shaping up for next year, it looks as though we will have the tools to more than compete for promotion – and that is the aim.
Lowes, who coached the Barrow-born talent during his time with the Wolves, says Shaw has the potential to make huge inroads next term. Shaw will only add to the growing competition in Bradford's 2015 new-look backline, according to the Bulls boss – who is delighted to have secured the Cumbrian's services.
“Ryan is a young, up and coming talent who I know very well. He was just coming into the junior ranks when I was at Warrington, so I know what he is capable of bringing to the party.
“Ryan has bags of potential. He is very quick, knows his way to the line and can kick goals. I believe he has all the tools.
“We are starting to build some real strength in depth within the backs and, for Ryan, it is now all about hitting the ground running and making the most of his ability.”
Bradford have continued their preparations for life in the Championship by re-signing former Warrington utility player Matty Blythe and confirming the departure of wingers Elliot Kear and Luke George.
Kear, 25, a Welsh international, has spent the last three seasons with the Bulls after joining them from Crusaders while George, 26, moved to Bradford from Huddersfield a year ago.
Blythe, 25, who has signed a new two-year contract, is the 14th player to be retained by the relegated Bulls and, with six confirmed signings so far, takes coach James Lowes' squad numbers for 2015 to 20.
I am over the moon to be staying and, in truth, wanted to stay all along.
There were offers elsewhere and it came down to a choice of Bradford Bulls or a Super League club but I had no intentions of walking away.
I love being here and want to achieve something special as a Bradford player.
The club has done a fantastic job in keeping the bulk of our current squad together for next year, which only made my decision easier.
Blythe spent seven seasons at Warrington, including a spell under Lowes as head coach.
I am delighted Matty has decided to crack on with us next year. He is a selfless player who always gives 110 per cent, bringing masses of enthusiasm to the team. There is no doubt he will be a key figure for us next year. One of his key attributes is his versatility. Matty can play just about anywhere and do a fantastic job. That will be priceless for us next season.
Bradford Bulls have announced that utility star Matty Blythe, 25, has today put pen to paper on a new two-year deal with the club, meaning he will be a Bull until at least the end of 2016.
The versatile back or forward has featured on the wing, at centre, full-back, second row and loose forward this year, making 16 appearances.
“I am over the moon to be staying and, in truth, wanted to stay all along,” said Blythe.
“There were offers elsewhere and it came down to a choice of Bradford Bulls or a Super League club, but I had no intentions of walking away.
“I love being here and want to achieve something special as a Bradford player.
“The club has done a fantastic job in keeping the bulk of our current squad together for next year, which only made my decision easier.
“Seeing some fairly big names commit their futures to the Bulls is, in my opinion, a massive state of intent by the board of directors.
“Everyone wants to be a part of what could be a fantastic season and we look forward to getting preparations underway later this year.”
Blythe was reunited with one-time Warrington Wolves boss Lowes when the former Bradford hooker took over the coaching reins at the Provident Stadium, back in June.
Blythe, who enjoyed a loan spell in the sport's second tier with Leigh Centurions, back in 2010, worked under the 1997 Man of Steel while plying his trade at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, where he spent almost seven years.
“I am delighted Matty has decided to crack on with us next year,” said head coach Lowes.
“He is a selfless player who always gives 110 per-cent, bringing masses of enthusiasm to the team.
“Matty likes to carry the ball and he is a strong runner. There is no doubt he will be a key figure for us next year.
“One of his key attributes is his versatility. Matty can play just about anywhere and do a fantastic job. That will be priceless for us next season.”
Meanwhile, Bradford Bulls can today confirm that both Luke George and Elliot Kear will leave the club at the end of the season.
Leeds Rhinos' head coach Brian McDermott says the game is losing one of its characters as Matt Diskin announced his retirement from the game.
The current Bradford Bulls captain had nine seasons at Headingley but left the season before McDermott took charge.
Chris Dawkes asked the Rhinos boss about Diskin's exit from the game:
Bradford Bulls captain Matt Diskin has announced he will retire at the end of the season.
The 32-year-old former Great Britain and England international has made 364 appearances for club, county and country, in a career spanning 14 years.
Dewsbury-born hooker Diskin turned professional as a Leeds Rhino, making his first-team debut in 2001, and went on to win four Super League titles with the Headingley club.
He was named man of the match in the 2004 Grand Final, claiming the Harry Sunderland Trophy as the Rhinos overcame Bradford at Old Trafford, and was crowned a World Club Challenge winner in 2008.
Diskin has made a total of 86 appearances for the Bulls, having arrived at the Provident Stadium in 2010, and has skippered the side for the past three seasons.
His representative honours include three Yorkshire, three England and seven England A caps, in addition to a solitary Great Britain appearance.
I have enjoyed a wonderful career, one which I would have happily completed for free.
I am extremely proud of what I have achieved in the game and, not being the most naturally-gifted player, I have done this through sheer hard work and determination.
Winger Danny Williams has today agreed a permanent contract to become the nineteenth addition to Bradford Bulls' 2015 roster.
The 27-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year contract with the Bulls, confirming his departure from parent club Salford Red Devils.
Having initially arrived at the Provident Stadium on a short-term loan deal, Williams will be a Bradford player until at least the end of 2016.
“I was really excited about coming to Bradford to begin with, so am obviously delighted to be extending my stay.
“This is a club with big ambitions for the future and I want to be a part of what is eventually achieved here.
“I love working with James Lowes and am excited about what the next couple of years could bring.
“I am happy with how I have performed since joining the Bulls but, most importantly, I am happy to be part of this team.
“With the way the squad is shaping up for next year, I think our supporters can be confident of us making an immediate return to Super League.
“I fully intend to keep fit and find my very best form in order to help ensure that happens."
Williams, who has previously played for Leeds, Castleford and Hull and had a stint in rugby union with Newcastle Falcons, arrived as James Lowes' first addition in July.
And the Bulls boss says he is delighted to have secured the three-quarter's services – on a permanent basis.
“Danny is a very experienced player, who has age on his side.
“I am really pleased that the deal has gone through, as I feel Danny provides good competition out wide.
“I am looking forward to working with him during pre-season training and going into next year, where he could prove fairly key for us.
“Wherever he has gone in the past, he has always worked extremely hard and that is what I like about him. His attitude is first class.”
Meanwhile, Bradford Bulls have also confirmed that Jamie Foster will be leaving the club at the end of the season.