Cooke relishes Dons’ Bulls fight

Dons' Paul Cooke converts a kick against London Skolars. Picture: Andrew Roe
Dons' Paul Cooke converts a kick against London Skolars. Picture: Andrew Roe

PAUL Cooke is hoping he can provide the Dons with the key ingredient as they prepare to take on Super League opponents Bradford Bulls in the fourth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup on Sunday.

Doncaster travel to Odsal knowing they face a stiff challenge to remain in the competition.

But Cooke, who played a pivotal role in guiding Hull FC to Challenge Cup glory in 2005, says the pressure is off with the Dons having nothing to lose as they look to cause a famous upset.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Cooke.

“Bradford are a very good team, they’ve got their off-field issues at the moment, but they’re still a great side and they’ll be going into this game with expectations of an easy win.

“That takes the pressure off our shoulders and allows us to just go into the game and play and enjoy the experience of playing in the Cup.

“2005 was a very special day for me and one I’ll never forget.

“To score what turned out to be the winning try is one of those memories that will stay with me forever and it’s something to tell my kids.

“That makes the Cup extra special for me but I think the great thing is that the Challenge Cup is special for everyone – no matter what level they play the game at or what age they are.

“The Aussies that come over here to play all talk about the Cup and it’s got history throughout the world so everyone wants to do well and go as far as possible.”

Cooke returned to action with Doncaster following an 18-month injury lay-off and the former Hull KR and Wakefield Wildcats player says he’s been reinvigorated by his time with the Dons.

“It’s been tough for me getting back into things after a long lay-off but it’s been going good so far and we’ve been doing well as a club,” said Cooke.

“We’ve only lost to Barrow so far and they are the favourites for the league so we’ve been in good form.

“The enjoyment of the game has come back for me.

“As a professional sometimes you can lose sight of the reasons you play the game with all the extra pressures that come with it, but the lads at Doncaster all play the game for the right reasons and my love of the game has returned.

“That’s the reason I started playing as an eight-year-old lad and it’s great to be like that again.

“I’ve been trying to give the lads here whatever advice I can pass on from my experiences in the cup and I know they’re all looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd and doing their best come Sunday.

Tickets for Sunday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round tie at Odsal (3pm) cost from £15 adult, £10 concession and £5 juniors.

They can be purchased by calling the Bulls’ ticket office on 08448 711 490.