Doncaster RLFC: Thornton hopes experience will count next season

Paul Mennell
Paul Mennell

Doncaster RLFC head coach Gary Thornton will be using the experience gained while in charge of York City Knights when putting together a squad to challenge for honours in League One.

“There is as big a gap between League One and the Championship as there is between the Championship and Super League,” he said this week.

“The game is also a lot slower at League One level – certainly compared to the likes of Bradford, Leigh and Halifax.

“Some of the newer development clubs, in particular, struggle to attract quality players and you get a lot of slower players in the forwards and they try and slow the pace of the game down to their level.

“Some of the new sides also play the game differently. They have big packs and play a lot down the middle and some of their pitches, notably Hemel, are tight.”

He added: “With regards to next season, first and foremost I’m looking to put a squad together that is going to be competitive against the top end of League One clubs.

“To do well we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got a squad of players not only capable of qualifying for the play-offs, but also doing well in them.

“With that in mind I want to put a squad of players together who are hungry to get fit and maintain those levels and pre-season training will be absolutely massive in that respect.

“I want people who are really prepared to dig deep in training and then take that fitness on to the field.

“I think that is going to be the key to success next season. It worked for me at York and I’m confident it will do at Doncaster.

“The York team was young, hungry for success, and very fit and that’s something we’ve got to try and emulate here.”

“York won a lot of games in the last 20 minutes, despite teams trying to slow them down, when their extra fitness started to show and they would often blow teams away in the final quarter.

“That’s what a lot of Championship teams have done to us this season and it’s something we can’t allow to happen again next year.”

Thornton is still hoping that scrum-half Paul Mennell will feature in his plans.

The half-back, who suffered a dislocated knee cap and ligament damage several weeks ago, has yet to make a decision on his future.

“Paul has promised to let me know one way or the other before we start pre-season training,” said Thornton.