20 May 2022


Thunder head coach gives his thoughts on Saturday's clash at Odsal

Newcastle Thunder head coach Eamon O’Carroll is hoping more training for players returning from injury will see his side build on a 22-52 win over London Broncos last weekend, as they travel to face Bradford Bulls on Saturday in rugby league’s Betfred Championship (KO 6pm)

Thunder were boosted ahead of last week’s trip to the capital as six of the club’s key squad members returned from long-term injuries, with the performance levels stepping up a gear as a result.

And whilst some rustiness was apparent as partnerships reunited, O’Carroll is confident that this week’s focus on on-field sessions will help those combinations become more  

“We were really pleased with the win down in London. I sensed in the week with getting some senior payers back that we would perform well but without it being perfect, so we certainly came out of the game with things to work on, but I was just happy to see lads like Ukuma [Ta’ai], Alex [Foster] and Josh [Woods].

“You could see that bit of experience out there and it helped us massively. The lads we have had in the squad whilst they have been unavailable have gained some good experience which will stand us in good stead moving forward but I think everyone was happy looking around the changing rooms and seeing those leaders back.

“The intensity and the standard of our training naturally lifted, and you could see generally there was a buzz about the place, we’d come off a week off, so the lads were energised anyway, and I think that came at the right time with the number of players injured that we’d had.”

With a morale-boosting win secured last weekend Thunder now travels to West Yorkshire looking to secure a first-ever win over the Bulls, who have also had a mixed bag of results in the first half of the season.

Placing a focus to on-field sessions to allow returning players to work on their combinations, O’Carroll is happy with how training has gone, and that Thunder are prepared to meet the challenges that Bradford will pose.

“There was a bit of work to do at the start of this week to recover from a long journey back from London and re-energise, but then this week has been about spending as much time as we could on the field to get the combinations back working.

“It’s not a case of you’re getting five or six players back and it clicks straight away, you need to spend some time together and that is what we have been looking to do.”

“We’ve prepared really well.  Bradford have got strike throughout the field, Jordan Lilley and Dec Patton are real generals who will get them around the park. They will throw some shapes at us and they will test us defensively.

“I think the battle in the middle is going to be one that we must make sure that we are prepared for and go in with the right mentality. They have Steve Crossley and Anthony Walker and we know the level that Sam Hallas can get to, and he will be wanting to have a big game.

“That’s going to be the area for us to really focus on.  Handling those big boys and then organising our line so we can handle any shapes that they throw at us.”