Date of Birth: 20/12/1986
Height: 6ft 4in
Weight: 17st 0.09lb
Craig Kopczak was born in Eccleshill, Bradford. He began his career with the local amateur team – Dudley Hill ARLFC. He joined Bradford Bulls in 2002 and broke through to the first team in 2006 for his first Super League appearance in a 52-18 victory over Huddersfield, when he came on as a sub. He made one other appearance that season (again, from the bench) in a heavy defeat to Warrington (27-4).
In 2007 he made 3 Super League appearances, all as sub. Although he’d made huge strides as a teenager in the Bulls academy and made 2 appearances for Wales in 2007, his progress in the SL was not so rapid. By the end of the year Bulls manager at the time, Steve McNamara, decided to send Craig out on loan to Halifax, for the early stages of the upcoming 2008 season. Halifax finished 3rd in the NL1 in 2008.
Kopczak also made 15 appearances for the Bulls in 2008. His first starting position for the team came against St Helens when he played in his favoured position as a Prop.
2009 was Kopczak’s turning point in rugby league – his 2008 loan experience with Halifax had paid dividends and he managed to play in all but 2 of Bradford’s SL matches in 2009. He was consistent from the bench and even had a short burst of starts for the Bulls mid-season. He scored 3 tries in 3 consecutive matches – however, they were all ruled out for different reasons. His first, recordable try, came against St Helens. It was an away tie and the Bulls defeated the SL champions 34-30.
In October 2009 he played 30 minutes for Wales against England before coming off due to a ligament injury. He still managed to score a try in the game but Wales lost 48-12.
In 2010 Bradford Bulls played a pre-season warm-up game against Hull KR. Craig took part in the friendly and unfortunately sustained a serious injury during a clash in the 31st minute. It was reported that Kopczak had broken his leg and would be out of action for several months. But it was later confirmed by Bradford Bulls, that the X-Rays proved his leg not to be broken and Craig actually recovered for the start of the SL season.
Ironically his first try that season came against Hull KR in round 23. He scored another against Wigan in the last game of the season. He made a total of 26 appearances for the Bulls that year, with 5 starts. At the end of the season, he declared his loyalty to the Bradford Bulls, by signing a 3 year contract extension with his local SL team.