TALENTED youngster Sam Bates has today signed a new two-year deal with the club, meaning he will be a Bradford Bull until at least the end of 2016.
The 18-year-old utility forward has made two appearances in First:Utility Super League this season and is to begin full-time training with the first-team squad later this month.
Bates caught coach Francis Cummins' eye when he played through the pain barrier to help Bradford to a vital victory over Warrington Wolves last month.
Halifax-born Bates, a star of the club's under-19s outfit, has spoken of his delight having agreed a new contract with the club, insisting he is now fully focused on making a name for himself in Bulls colours.
“I am over the moon to be extending my deal as I really want to make a mark here,” he said.
“I have played a couple of first-team games this year and was 18th man for another. I loved every minute of it and want to experience much more.
“No-one really expected anything from me and the pressure was off, which enabled me to just go for it.
“But the pressure is on now. I will be training full-time with the first team pretty much right away, once my college commitments are complete.
“The good thing is I will be active throughout the course of next year, as I have been this season, because I can go round again with the Under-19s while attempting to make the first team.”
Bates has idolised former Bulls star Sam Burgess, one of a number of big-name forwards produced by the club in recent years.
He wants to follow in the England international's footsteps by bursting onto the scene at a young age, in the red, amber and black of Bradford.
“This club has a history of producing world-class forwards and I would love to achieve how, for example, Sam has,” explained Bates, who is being proudly sponsored by Jennifer Bennison.
“I am viewed as a utility forward, as is he. I can play pretty much anywhere in the pack. Sam started out as a prop but, in recent years, he has played in the back row – for both club and country.
“I idolise him, he is an incredible talent and one of the best. The fact he began his career here provides an added incentive for me. I would love to follow in his footsteps and play a key role for this fantastic club.”
Coach Cummins is predicting a bright future for Bates, claiming the rising talent's reputation has been enhanced in 2014.
And the Bulls boss is looking forward to having the front or back rower on board in a full-time capacity.
“Sam has all the necessary attributes to go far in the sport, he is a very hard worker,” added Cummins.
“The game-time he enjoyed against Wigan and Warrington perhaps came earlier than expected, but he certainly stepped up and did extremely well.
“He is tough and aggressive and a full-time contract is just reward for his efforts.
“Sam is a developing talent and I would not rule him out of future first-team selection. He grasped his opportunity and enhanced his reputation.
“If required, I would not hesitate in selecting him but Sam knows he is now on a progression path. We are looking forward to seeing how he grows and improves over the coming years.
“This club has a great record when it comes to producing top-quality forwards and it is something we are looking to continue with.”
Bradford Bulls Under-19s return to Academy Championship action this Sunday, taking on Salford Red Devils in a curtain raiser to the Super League tie between the two clubs - from 12.30pm.