ST HELENS have swooped to sign gun Bradford back rower James Bentley until 2021. The 19-year-old Bulls forward has scored 15 tries in 23 appearances this season, despite the ailing Bradford club suffering relegation from the Championship.
Named by Bulls captain and legend Leon Pryce as the second tier’s best player “by an absolute mile”, Bentley will link up with the Saints from the start of next season.
“He’s powerful, strong and is consistent in his performances week in week out” said St Helens coach Justin Holbrook to the club’s website. “James is a quality young player and we are pleased to bring him to the club.”
“He knows he has a lot of improvement in him too and he’s looking forward to developing in our system.”
Bentley, who is a product of the Oulton Raiders club in Leeds, was highly sought after and will be missed by the Bulls.
“Obviously, he would have loved to stay at Bradford but the circumstances ensure that option is taken out of his hands. His career path now lies at St Helens and we wish him all the best,” said coach Geoff Toovey after yesterday’s win at Oldham, in which Bentley scored.
“It’s bitter-sweet for us but you can’t hold people back and circumstances favour him leaving, which is disappointing. Those circumstances are out of our control.
“He’s been great all year. He’s remained committed and I’m sure he will be for the last five games of the season. We look forward to watching him next year playing in Super League.”
The player himself spoke to Saints’ website:
“I can’t wait to get over there and get started. It was a big decision to leave, an emotional one as well but I am looking forward to be playing at the top level. It is a decision I’ve made to further my career.
“I’m expecting the step up to be hard, it’s going to be a lot faster and a lot tougher but I am looking forward to and going head first into the challenge.
“I can’t wait to get over there; some of the players that they have like Ben Barba and Jon Wilkin, are just great players. I can learn from them and become a better player.
“I’m committed to the Bulls for the rest of the season I want to finish with my time here on a high.”