FORMER Oakbank School pupil Matthew Storton is hoping to taste more first-team action with Bradford Bulls now he is able to play pain-free again.

The highly-rated Keighley teenager's senior debut at Toulouse was his most significant step on the road back to full fitness following major surgery last August.

Storton had suffered from a persistent hamstring injury, with a scan revealing that a five-hour operation was needed to rectify the problem.

He said: "It was a weird injury. I was suffering pain last season and went for an MRI scan, which showed there was an extra bone by my hamstring which was pushing against my nerve.

"They shaved the bone off but had to do it really slowly so as not to damage the nerve.

"It had been niggling me for years so I'm glad to have finally got it sorted. From there I have kicked on and started doing well again."

The 18-year-old, who had been the subject of Super League interest before signing a new deal for Bulls in the close season, is now feeling the benefits of his hard work to get fit again.

He said "I've played about seven games (for the Academy) this season and feel fine. I can play better now the injury is not there. I had to do about four months' rehab and then training for another month to get my game-fitness back."

Leigh Beattie, who has been acting Bulls head coach as well as being in charge of the under-19s, has spoken of Storton's "cracking potential", having seen the youngster come up through the ranks since he joined at the age of 14.

With Keighley Cougar Cubs not running a team at his age group when he took up the game, Storton spent his first few years at Dudley Hill before joining fellow Bradford outfit West Bowling at the age of 12.

He enjoyed four years there and, after successful progression through the Bulls' scholarship programme, the Keighley starlet impressed playing for the under-19s academy last year before his operation.

He revealed he had offers to join Warrington and Castleford but opted to remain at Odsal, penning a two-year deal until the end of next season.

The back-rower said: "I really like it at Bulls. I've been with them since 14 and they are the nearest big club to me.

"One of reasons I stayed was they said I would be more likely to get a chance of playing in the first team this season with the shortage of players."

That chance came last month when Bulls were hammered 60-4 in Toulouse.

It couldn't have been a tougher introduction but Storton, who was given half an hour's game time off the bench, still enjoyed being involved.

He said: "It was good experience but when I came on we were already 50 points down so I couldn’t do much.

"It was a really tough game. They were so big. They had beaten leaders Hull KR before playing us and are really strong at home.

"I had about five carries and ten tackles and didn’t do anything wrong.

"I wasn't nervous at all. I don’t really get nervous before games, apart from just before coming on, but once I had my first carry I was fine.

"I didn’t find out I was in the squad until the Thursday before the game flew and we flew out on the Friday.

"My family would have travelled too but it was short notice and they couldn’t get a flight."

Storton was back with the under-19s last week, catching the eye with his tackling as Bulls were beaten 34-6 at home to Huddersfield.

Having seen so many of his peers step up to senior level ahead of schedule this season, there is plenty of incentive for him to keep impressing and earn another call-up.

"A lot of lads I played with last year have been playing in the first team," said Storton. "Hopefully, I'll get more action too this year but I've also got another year with under-19s."