Doncaster RLFC: Paul Cooke set for first appearance of pre-season

Paul Cooke
Paul Cooke

Dons’ player-coach Paul Cooke is likely to make his first appearance of the year in tomorrow’s pre-season friendly against Hunslet Hawks at the Keepmoat Stadium.

The veteran half-back has watched the club’s first two warm-up games from the stand, keen to take a look at what the likes of close-season signings such as Josh Kittrick can do.

But with the opening Championship game away to London Broncos fast approaching, Cooke is now beginning to concentrate his focus his attention more on what his starting line-up against the relegated Super League side will be.

He plans to cut the size of the squad on duty tomorrow to either 19 or 20.

“We need a bit more continuity and cohesion going into the season so we’ll start giving players a little more game time,” he said.

Looking ahead to the club’s penultimate warm-up game against promoted Hunslet, Cooke said: “With us playing a fellow Championship team for the first time we’ll be playing at a level where we are more comfortable.

“When you play against the number of quality players in a Super League side that we did against Castleford last weekend, you get taken into an uncomfortable zone as far as we are concerned and we learned some lessons from the game.

“Hunslet will still be a challenge. Barry Eaton has certainly recruited well in the off-season when you look at the likes of (former Dons prop) Mark Castle and Andy Kain and one or two others who have gone there.”

“We’ll certainly learn how tough the Championship is going to be next season when you consider that the team we are coming up against are probably favourites for the drop.”

The club complete their pre-season build-up tomorrow week when entertaining Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos.