Doncaster RLFC: Paul Cooke to concentrate on coaching role as Dons head in ‘different direction’

Paul Cooke
Paul Cooke

Doncaster fans may have seen the last of player-coach Paul Cooke in a blue and gold shirt.

Cooke stopped short of saying that he had ‘hung up his boots’ after sitting out yesterday’s 24-12 Championship defeat against Dewsbury Rams at the Keepmoat Stadium - but that is effectively what he has done.

He told the media at his post-match press conference that he would only play in future if the club were down to 16 players.

The Dons have lost all ten league and cup games this season and are currently four points adrift at the foot of the Championship and are out of the Challenge Cup.

Cooke has been brutally honest about the team’s shortcomings this season and doesn’t exclude himself from criticism.

“I’m 34 (this week) and playing (at this level) is becoming a lot more difficult.” he said.

“We need to start moving in a different direction as a club and the board are aware of that.”

Asked whether he thought the team would miss his leadership and guidance on the pitch, Cooke replied: “The team hasn’t been good enough in the six or seven games I’ve played this season and I’ve not been performing any better than anyone else.

“The players ask questions when I’m not playing well – I’m no different (to them) when I’m out there playing.

“If I was feeling fit and 25 I’d still have left myself out (on Sunday) because of the way I’ve been playing, so it’s not just a decision based on my age.

“The club has had three good years towards the back end of my career and we now need to start looking forward as a group and as a club.”