Doncaster RLFC: Leigh win eases Cooke’s injury concerns

Paul Cooke has been battling through injury. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Paul Cooke has been battling through injury. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
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Doncaster’s outstanding display in Sunday’s 24-16 win over Championship leaders Leigh has lessened the need for player-coach Paul Cooke to rush back into action.

Now level on points with third-placed Halifax, the Dons entertain lowly Swinton Lions on Sunday and Cooke now has the luxury of being able to give himself more time to shake off his niggles if needed.

The 33-year-old left himself out of the club’s biggest home game of the season.

“I’d been struggling for the last couple of weeks with a neck injury and a bit of a sore knee,” said Cooke, who had admitted that his recent form had dipped as a result.

It was the first game of the season that the veteran half-back had missed, and there were concerns the Dons would lack leadership.

“It was a challenge for the players because everyone outside the group probably believed that structurally we are not as good when I’m not out there,” said Cooke.

“But the players showed that to be false and they’ve got a great belief as a group that we can win games and Sunday’s result reiterated that.

“They were first class and they are a first class group to be involved with.”

Although delighted with the fact that the Dons became the first Championship side to beat Leigh this season, Cooke is typically not allowing himself to get carried away - a philosophy he will also be drilling into his side.

He added: “We just need to keep our feet on the ground and the players need to continue to work hard this week.

“We need to build on the Leigh performance, against what will be a desperate side, and take it into our last seven league games.”