Lowes ready for huge task
James Lowes is under no illusions over the size of his task as he prepares to take charge of relegation candidates Bradford Bulls for the first time.
The former Bulls hooker's first match in First Utility Super League is against his former club Warrington Wolves, who are on a roll with seven straight wins, including a 46-10 Tetley's Challenge Cup success at Bradford earlier this month.
Lowes, who was head coach of the Wolves from 2008-9 before reverting to the role of assistant under current boss Tony Smith, takes over a club looking destined for the Kingstone Press Championship unless they can win their High-Court battle to over-turn their points deduction.
Even if they get all six points back, the Bulls needs to start winning soon with only 10 matches left of the regular season and Lowes knows how difficult that will be at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
"I don't think it could come any tougher," Lowes said. "They are playing with a lot of confidence which is a big thing.
"I've some great memories there and I'm looking forward to going back. I've still a lot of friends there.
"It's a great club full of good players and it's a good place to play rugby."
Lowes inherits a Bradford side nine points adrift of their nearest rivals and admits he has a plan B in the event of the club being relegated from Super League for the first time.
"My aim is get a bit of enjoyment back in the game for these guys and the spectators as well," said Lowes, who spent the first eight years of Super League at the Bulls and helped them win every trophy in the game.
"In the longer term, wherever we end up, it's to get back to the top. It's a big club who are well supported.
"Whether we end up going down this year or not, the long term aim is to be a force in Super League once more."
Bradford captain Matt Diskin, who took temporary charge following the sacking of Francis Cummins and his assistant Lee St Hilaire, believes the return of a club legend can provide the team with a timely lift.
"It will give us a lift for the Warrington game but let's not be naive," Diskin said. "We've changed the coach but the playing personnel and lack of depth is still there.
"So it's going to be a tough task for Jimmy to lift us up but I'm sure he will do."
Leeds Rhinos will be looking to make it 10 out of 10 when they host Catalan Dragons in a rare Sunday fixture at Headingley, where the French club have yet to taste victory.
The Dragons have lost on all nine previous visits to Leeds and their only home defeat this year came at the hands of the Rhinos back in February.
However, the Catalans are unbeaten in their last five matches and Leeds coach Brian McDermott is taking no notice of his side's 40-12 win in Perpignan.
"They are a much-improved team," McDermott said. "They struggled to find form at the start of the year but they are a more fluent beast at the moment.
"They seem to have got that steel and toughness back and they've been in great form these past few weeks. They have a very aggressive pack, which makes them a formidable team."
In Sunday's other game, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will be looking to make it three wins out of three under new coach James Webster when Hull FC visit the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
The Wildcats, who will be looking to complete the double after winning 23-16 at the KC Stadium in May, have not looked back since Australian scrum-half Tim Smith returned to the club from Salford Red Devils.
"They have got some real good players and it has tied in nicely with Tim Smith coming back from where he left off," admitted Hull coach Lee Radford.
"He touches the ball more than anybody else in their team at the moment and the job we do on him will have a big effect on the result."