Dons’ players have been coming to terms this week with the news that Paul Cooke will effectively channel all his efforts into coaching from now on.
The stand-off, who has made a huge contribution as a player to the club’s success over the last three years, effectively announced that he was hanging up his boots with immediate effect following Sunday’s 24-12 Championship defeat against Dewsbury at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Cooke, who left himself out of the team, has been unhappy with his own performances this season and stuck by a pre-season pledge that he would only carry on as long as he felt he was benefiting the team.
“I’m not selfish enough to just want to go out there and play because I’m at the back end of my career,” said Cooke, 34, one of the best half-backs of his generation.
“It needs to be for the right reasons and for the right amount of quality that I bring to the team.”
He said the search for a permanent new half-back to replace him had already begun.
“We’ll be trying to find one (a good half-back) and we’ll certainly have a dual-reg in for the Bradford Bulls game on Sunday week,” he said
Although Cooke didn’t discuss the matter with his players prior to going public in a post-match press conference, he said that his decision not to play again unless in an emergency had received the backing of the Dons’ board
Cooke continues to have the backing of the fans.
Although obviously disappointed with the team’s position in the Championship following nine defeats in as many games, there have been no public calls for Hull-based Cooke’s head.
Acknowledging the fact that most coaches in his position would be under severe pressure, Cooke said he appreciates the fans’ continued support and pledges that he will do everything within his power to turn things around.
He reiterated that the club is actively looking to add more players of the calibre of recent recruits winger Peter Fox and young utility-back Dan Reynolds.
Cooke also said that under different circumstances he would have given his part-time squad a bit of time off to recover from their testing start to the season given the fact that the club are without a game this weekend as a result of being knocked out of the Rugby League Challenge Cup.
“There won’t be much time off for the players as I don’t feel that it is time that we can afford to be wasting,” he said.