Mick Potter quits as Bradford Bulls coach to return to Australia

Bradford Bulls coach Mick Potter has announced he is leaving the club to return to his native Australia.

The new owners of the Super League club had offered a fresh contract to the 48-year-old, who had been working on a voluntary basis since early July.

"I was always going to return to Australia and I feel that now is the right time for me to go," said Potter.

Mick Potter factfile

  • Born 24 Sept 1963 in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
  • Over a 13-year career as full-back, he played more than 200 games for Canterbury Bulldogs, St George Dragons & Western Reds
  • His first head coaching role was at Catalan Dragons, whom he led to the Challenge Cup final (2007) and a third-place Super League finish in 2008
  • As coach of St Helens, from 2009, he took the club to two successive Grand Finals
  • He gained plaudits for leading Bradford to a ninth-place finish in 2012, despite the club enduring a tumultuous time off the field

The former Catalan Dragons and St Helens boss has recommended assistant Francis Cummins as his successor.

"I have enjoyed my time at the Bulls and the supporters and people at the club are second to none," said Potter.

"I feel too that, despite circumstances beyond our control, the team, through the rugby league we played, showed a lot of character in the midst of terrible adversity.

"[New owners] Omar Khan and Gerry Sutcliffe have come in and rescued the club, and were keen for me to stay for a longer tenure, and I made it clear to them that my decision has nothing to do with their purchase of the club.

"It has been the things that have happened over the previous five months that have caused my decision.

"I will be watching Bradford Bulls with a lot of interest from Australia and it goes without saying that I wish them every success in the future."

In a joint statement, director Khan and honorary chairman Sutcliffe said: "We are sorry Mick has chosen to leave because we wanted him to stay longer with us after the tremendous job he has done in difficult circumstances. He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club and we wish him well in the future.

"We hope to be able to announce a new coach early next week."

Potter is in no doubt that the new coach should be Cummins, who played more than 350 games for Leeds during a 12-year playing career that also saw him represent Ireland and Great Britain before a spell as assistant coach at the Rhinos and then the Bulls.

Analysis

"Potter leaves Bradford having enhanced his reputation as an excellent coach and a first-class gentleman. The Australian deserves huge credit for working without pay to guide an asset-stripped Bulls to the brink of a first appearance in the play-offs in four years.

"His efforts at the Bulls during the club's darkest period in history will be remembered positively."

"Franny is a smart, intelligent guy in his own right. He has worked with me throughout my time at the club and in my opinion will become a very good first-team coach," said Potter.

Potter, who joined Bradford from St Helens on a two-year deal in 2011, was one of 16 members of staff made redundant by the Bulls in early July as they sought a way to avoid liquidation.

He returned to the club in a voluntary capacity soon afterwards and helped to galvanise them on the field as their future was being secured off it courtesy of a takeover by a consortium led by Khan.

However, the Bulls failed to make the play-offs, with a six-point deduction for entering administration proving too great a handicap to overcome. Potter's final game in charge was the 50-26 defeat at Catalan Dragons.

Potter, who began his coaching career at Bradford as assistant to Matthew Elliot, returned to Europe seven years ago following a spell back in Australia to become head coach of Catalan Dragons.

In 2008, he led the French club to a third-place finish, 12 months after taking them to the Challenge Cup final, and was rewarded by being named Super League coach of the year.

He took over as coach at St Helens in 2009 and led them to the Grand Final in each of his two seasons at Knowsley Road.