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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 11:53 GMT
Fielden lets rip
By Paul Fletcher

Stuart Fielden in action against the Wests Tigers
Last season I was consistently bad this year I have set the challenge of being consistently good
Stuart Fielden

If you're wondering what it takes to succeed in Super League, just ask Stuart Fielden.

The Bradford Bulls prop may only be 26 but he is now the longest-serving player at the Yorkshire club following Robbie Paul's move to Huddersfield.

Fielden will complete 10 years with the Bulls in September, has appeared in the last five Grand Finals and was the stand-out player in Bradford's 30-10 destruction of Wests Tigers in the World Club Challenge.

But as he prepares to face Wakefield on Sunday, the Great Britain star has hit out at those critics who continue to doubt his team.

"It will be a big year again," Fielden told BBC Sport. "And it seems to be the trend that people write us off every year.

"If we lose a couple of games, that's it, it's time to 'tarmac over Odsal', 'the Bulls are useless', that type of thing.

"Yet St Helens always seem to be talked up as favourites even when they have injuries or drop down the table.

"It is good in a way because when critics write you off you get a chance to shove it down their throats. It gives you something to strive for."

Fielden expects Leeds Rhinos and Saints to be Bradford's main rivals again this season.

But he reckons that one of the major changes in Super League as the competition moves into its 11th year is the impact of the so-called lesser sides.

"Super League is improving. We say that every year but it is the truth," said the Halifax-born front rower.

I'll be frank - I don't know an Aussie or Kiwi that would come over here by choice
Stuart Fielden

"If you look at last season, Wakefield, Huddersfield, London and teams like that pulled off a lot of upsets.

"But a lot of those teams fizzled out towards the end when the bigger sides started firing again ahead of the play-offs."

Fielden, who is famed for his no-nonsense approach to the game, pulls no punches when asked about his opinions on the current state of rugby league in Britain.

And one issue that he has strong feelings about is foreign players in Super League.

"I'll be blatantly frank, I don't know an Aussie or Kiwi that would come over here by choice," he said.

"A lot of imports are brilliant players but they come over here for either the money or because they don't have decent options in the NRL."

Fielden insists many Australasian players are only too happy to be linked with a move to England in order to secure themselves a better deal back home.

"From Trent Barrett, to Andrew Johns and even Darren Lockyer, they use it as a bargaining chip to stay there because, when it comes to it, they see our league as a lesser league," he said.

Stuart Fielden in action against the Wests Tigers
Fielden has impressed against Australian sides

Fielden acknowledges that some imports are necessary to compensate for a shortage of home-grown talent.

But he added: "I still firmly believe our top four teams could compete in the NRL."

According to his brother, Fielden only hits top form when he is lining up against 13 men wearing either green and gold or black.

But the Bulls ace is keen to ensure he remains both motivated and at the peak of his powers all year.

"The same routine day-in, day-out for nine years could get mundane, so it's important to have different things to make life more interesting," he said.

"Last season, I was consistently bad. This year, I have set the challenge of being consistently good."

Few would doubts those words after his barn-storming display in the World Club Challenge.


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