Doncaster RLFC: Paul Cooke demanding answers after slow start proves costly

editorial image

The Dons have played a version of BBC Television’s popular Question Time this week.

But instead of veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby asking the questions it has been player-coach Paul Cooke.

Cooke wanted answers from his players as to why they did not start playing until relegated Super League side London Broncos had put 20 points on the board in Sunday’s Championship opener at The Hive.

Cooke said: “It’s not the first time we have made a slow start - we did so against both Hull and Hunslet in our four pre-season games.

“So we needed to address the problem and I wanted to hear the view of the players.

“We’d done our homework on the Broncos and they didn’t do anything on the day that we didn’t expect.

“They started in a manner which we thought they would after their defeat at Dewsbury in their final pre-season game.

“We knew that they’d be charged up and be aggressive but we didn’t really handle that like we are capable of doing and we didn’t stop their go-forward.”

Cooke insisted the fact that he had three Hull FC men - Iafeta Paleaaesina, Jordan Rankin and Stewart Howarth - on debut as cover for injured players was not a negative factor.

“I thought that (half-back) Jordan was great for us in attack,” he said.

“There was a bit of responsibility on his shoulders (standing in for injured scrum-half Richard Wilkinson) but I thought he handled it very well.”

With the influential Wilkinson facing several more weeks on the sidelines, Cooke would welcome being able to retain Rankin’s services during that period but said it wasn’t his decision to make

Hooker Kyle Kesik, who missed Sunday’s opener, could come into the frame for Sunday’s home game against Featherstone, who Cooke saw beat Hunslet Hawks on Monday night 28-14.

But the Dons’ boss said that he wouldn’t risk the key forward.

“If he isn’t 100 per cent then he won’t play,” said Cooke, who would have no hesitation in playing Howarth again should the need arise and he is available.

He added: “Sunday’s game is very important in the context of our season and it will give us a bench mark as regards our prospects this season.

“They finished second last year and I would expect them to be up there challenging again.”