Doncaster RLFC: Thornton expecting tough test against Leeds Rhinos

Doncaster RLFC complete their pre-season build-up with a game aganst Leeds Rhinos at the Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday (3pm).

Thursday, 4th February 2016, 05:00 am
Updated Thursday, 4th February 2016, 14:59 pm
Leeds Rhinos visit the Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday.

Last season’s triple champions begin the defence of their Super League title against Warrington tonight but some of the players not involved could feature in Sunday’s game.

“Whatever team Leeds turn out it will be a tough test and a good challenge for our players,” said Dons boss Gary Thornton.

“I would certainly expect some Super League calibre players to be in their side.”

The Dons will again lack the services of forwards Mark Castle and Mike Kelly – neither of whom have featured in the previous two warm-up games - and Jordan Howden, who is only making slow progress after taking a knock in the first friendly.

Better news for Thornton is that skipper Kyle Kesik and close season signings Makali Aizue and Matt Nicholson are all set to feature for the first time. Mason Tonks could also play some part.

“It’s important that the players who have been injured get some minutes under their belts on Sunday,” said Thornton.

“I don’t want to go into our first competitive game against North Wales on the 21st with half-a-dozen players who haven’t played since last season because of the risk of them breaking down during the game.”

“I’ll have a big decision to make ahead of the North Wales game but some of the injured players could be looking at the Challenge Cup the following week.

The players, who have had only limited time to work on their ball skills outside of the two games due to a combination of circumstances, enjoyed a session on Town Fields on Saturday morning .

“We had to look around for alternative venues because we weren’t able to use Cantley Park because of a youth team match, but we got some good work done,” said Thornton.

“It was only a one-off so it’s not a problem.”