Promising Dewsbury Celtic centre James Pickering has signed his first professional contract with Super League giants Bradford Bulls.
The 16-year-old Spen Valley Sports College student was one of nine young players who put pen-to-paper this week to join the Bulls’ academy.
Pickering has successfully progressed through the scholarship system at the Provident Stadium and was introduced to the Bulls fans ahead of the first team’s thumping win over Huddersfield Giants on Saturday.
The teenager, who also plays on the wing, started playing rugby in Year 9 before hooking-up with Celtic’s U15s side in 2011.
He was immediately spotted by Bulls scouts and went on to play for Bradford’s under-15s and under-16s sides.
Pickering has been invited to study a BTEC Level 3 in Sport and an Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence and will combine his studies with training and conditioning with the Bulls.
Pickering was a talented judo player before making the switch to rugby league and he was the Reporter Series’ Junior Male Performance of the Year runner-up in 2009.
Following the arrival of the latest recruits, Bulls’ head of youth Paul Medley said: “It’s great for the club that they have all chosen to come here.
“It shows that confidence is returning to the Bulls after the problems of last year and these nine will be given every opportunity to push on in the system.
“We have invested in staff for next year as well as these players and they are coming into a very stable and quality environment.”