Doncaster RLFC: The double-edged sword of dual-registration

Jordan Rankin was one of four dual registration players unavailable for the Dons at the weekend
Jordan Rankin was one of four dual registration players unavailable for the Dons at the weekend

Doncaster player-coach Paul Cooke admitted this week that the dual-registration system can be a catch-22 situation at times.

“It’s a difficult predicament to be in as a coach,” said Cooke who has used Hull FC players in all of the club’s three Championship games to date to both provide cover for injuries and lack of form shown by others.

“Do you go with Super League quality players (if they are available) or do you stick by our own players some of whom didn’t set the world alight in the four pre-season games?” he questioned reflecting on his selections to date.

One of the problems of the dual-registration arrangement is that Cooke can’t dictate the players he wants on a week-to-week basis which can lead to a lot of chopping and changing on occasions .

Cooke faced the same problems last season,however, and the system worked well for both parties with the Dons just missing out on the runners-up spot.

Cooke admits that in an ideal world the club would have a strong enough squad to be competitive in the Championship but until such times as that is the case he maintains that dual-registration is vital.

All four Hull FC players who started the Championship game against Featherstone the previous week, were unavailable for last Sunday’s trip to Workington.

With centre Danny Cowling failing a late fitness test and Dave Scott switching from full-back to the wing, Cooke was one of only two players in the back division to start in both the Featherstone and Workington games. There were also several changes in the forwards.

Typically, Cooke didn’t look to blame the situation for the size of the club’s 33-6 defeat at Derwent Park, where they had won on their last two visits and had fancied their chances of making it a hat-trick given the much-improved performance in the battling defeat against Rovers.

He acknowledged that Workington had played well and deserved to take the spoils but he was critical of a number of aspects of the Dons’ display.

“We were still in the game at half-time (losing 8-6) but when we got into good positions in the second half we didn’t complete our sets and weren’t able to build any pressure as we had done against Featherstone,” he said.

The Dons face arguably their toughest test yet as they look to get off the mark when they welcome Leigh to the Keepmoat on Sunday, the only side with a 100 per cent record intact.