Doncaster Dons come up short

Man of Steel: Dons forward Mike Emmett, the club's Man of Steel last season in pre-season training
Man of Steel: Dons forward Mike Emmett, the club's Man of Steel last season in pre-season training

DONS boss Tony Miller is still looking to try and fix-up a third pre-season game next month.

Miller had been hoping to play a Doncaster Amateur Select, as they have done in the previous two years, at the Keepmoat Stadium on January 13 prior to tackling Championship rivals Keighley and Super League Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on successive weekends.

But the Doncaster clubs have told Miller that they aren’t interested in playing the Dons, who will be playing in the Championship this season after winning the 2012 Championship One title.

“We beat the Select fairly convincingly last season in Dean Colton’s Testimonial at Wheatley Hills and we’ve got stronger this season so whether that has influenced their decision, I don’t know,” said Miller.

“Now I know that we won’t be playing them I’ve started looking around. I’m not bothered who we play; I just want a game. The problem is that most of the sides have got their pre-season sorted out, but I’ll try and get somebody.”

Meanwhile, Miller is happy with how pre-season training is going.

“We did some hill running at Pontefract Park on Sunday morning and we also did a bit of defence and ball work,” he told The Star. “We’ve also used some of the facilities at Doncaster College, where winger Stu Sanderson works, such as their sports hall weights room, as well as our usual base at Lindholme.

“We’ve been back a couple of weeks now and things are going really well, the players are training hard and the new players have all fitted in well

“There is a good spirit in the squad, as was the case last year, and everyone is pushing each other and there is going to be a lot of competition for places.”

Among the new faces at the club this season are props Brooke Broughton, who was on Warrington’s books last season, and Brett Waller, Gateshead’s top try scorer.

“Brett played well against on both occasions last season,” said Miller. “He’s a big lad and boosting the size of the pack twas something that we were wanting to do.”

Winger or full-back Dennis Tuffour, who has also played for Hull FC, was at Hunslet last season.

“He can play either position but we are looking at playing him mainly on the wing,” said Miller. “He’s got some real pace and I’m sure he’ll prove a useful acquisition. James Clare, who has joined us on loan from Castleford for the season, is also very quick and I think he was third in the Super League sprint race during the summer.”

As well as the new signings, two familiar faces are back on at the club, strong-running back-rower Matt Carbutt and utility man Sean Leaf.

Carbutt missed the club’s record-breaking Championship One campaign due to spending a year Down Under.

“Matt played in Australia and the team he played for reached the semi-finals of their competition and were within one game of playing at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium,” said Miller. “He played at a high standard and played really well and he’s a good pro and we are delighted to have him back.”

Leaf has been welcomed back into the fold after serving an 18-month ban after illegally betting on the outcome of matches involving the club.

“Shaun can play in several positions and it’s good to have him back after his ban,” said Miller.

Although former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats prop Russ Spiers, who spent much of last season on loan at Doncaster, has joined Dewsbury, Miller is hopeful of being able to retain the services of young centre/second-rower Lucas Walshaw and centre Danny Cowling.

“We’ll be linking-up with Wakefield again and we’ve got a big meeting planned tomorrow,” said Miller.

“I’ll be talking to their coach Richard Agar about the players he is prepared to let come here on dual registration in what would again be a mutually beneficial arrangement.”