Doncaster RLFC: It’s like child’s play for new Dons coach

Paul Cooke watches his team from the stand. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Paul Cooke watches his team from the stand. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Coaching is like child’s play to Paul Cooke - and he should know!

The former Super League star has taken to his new player coach role at Doncaster like a duck to water.

He has also made a big impression down the road at Doncaster Knights, where his knowledge and experience is being put to very good use as a skills coach.

For father-of-two Cooke, who commutes from birthplace Hull, that leaves very little spare time.

But every cloud has a silver lining, joked the 32-year-old.

“I’m enjoying it,” said Cooke, on his hectic schedule.

“I’ve got two young kids at home so the longer I’m away probably the better, until they grow up a bit!

“The missus has got it tough,” he laughed.

“She’s harping on about having another one so I might try and get another job!”

Cooke, a studious operator who commands the respect of his peers, has the makings of an impressive coach.

He has been dealt a strong hand following the sterling work of his predecessor Tony Miller.

His biggest dilemma, in fact, may be whether to pick himself or conduct operations from the touchline.

He chose a seat in the stands for Doncaster’s opening pre-season friendly on Sunday, to understand the off field operation and also get a non-playing perspective on side’s shape.

And he liked what he saw for the majority of an entertaining draw against Super League side Hull FC, with a young Black and Whites outfit requiring two late tries to snatch a 16-16 tie.

“It was what we needed as a group and we got we wanted out of the game,” added Cooke.

“We know that we’ve got stuff to work on in attack.

“But defensively I thought we were half decent for large parts, until we gave them too much ball in the last fifteen to ten minutes.

“On the whole the staff and myself were happy with the defensive effort. We worked very hard for each other.

“We could see what we’ve been working on in training for the last three months come to some sort of fruition.

“I think we’ll be a tough team to beat if we take that kind of attitude into games.”

Liam Cunningham, Kyle Kesik and Matt Carbutt were all assessed by the club’s medical staff this week after hobbling off against Hull.

Cunningham’s injury is the most worrying, although he has not broken any bones.

Dons’ next friendly is at Dewsbury on February 2.