Doncaster RLFC v Bradford Bulls: Shaun Leaf set to call time on Dons career

Shaun Leaf
Shaun Leaf

Another Doncaster RLFC player is set to take a leaf out of Paul Cooke's book and hang up his boots.

Shaun Leaf, the club's longest-serving player, says this will probably be his last season at the club.

The 31-year-old, who has been a the club for over a decade, has struggled to break into the side this season and didn't play his first league game until ten days ago against Dewsbury.

“My job and family life are both getting a bit more hectic and if I’m not playing regularly then I can’t justify spending all the time training," he said.

“I was going to retire at the end of last season but I started playing a lot more games towards the back end and got the taste for it back again.

“I might reassess my decision if I was to start playing regularly again, but the standard of the league has gone up again this season and at my age the knocks feel harder and it is taking longer to recover."

Leaf hopes he did well enough against the Rams to keep his place against second-placed Bradford Bulls at the Keepmoat Stadium this weekend.

“I’ve worked hard on my fitness and I’ve kept in shape but as any player will tell you, you can't replicate match fitness. You only get that by playing regularly.

“The club have recently brought in a new rule which means that if you aren't playing on a Sunday you have to come in for a session on the hills with Pete Bell on the Friday.”

Commenting on the club's poor start, Leaf said: “Obviously players get down after a bad result but the character is still there. We are just a bit short of confidence as any team in our position would be.

“We aren't a million miles off, especially at home, and we aren't hitting the panic button just yet.

“We just need that first win to kick-start our season and hopefully we can pick that up against Bradford.

“The club are expecting a big crowd and that could lift us as it did last season against the likes of Leigh and Featherstone.

“The games against sides like Bradford are the ones the players want to play in in order to test themselves and try to push themselves to another level. I know we need the points but there will be more pressure on Bradford because they won't want to become the first team to lose against us this season.”

Australian prop Matthew Groat should make his Dons debut this weekend after signing last week.

The 23-year-old has experience of playing in the NRL with West Tigers.