Doncaster RLFC: Thornton relishing going in at the deep end

Gary Thornton
Gary Thornton

New Dons head coach Gary Thornton could hardly have had a tougher game in which to mark his arrival than tomorrow’s trip to second-placed Bradford.

But the former Batley and York boss, who has twice being voted divisional coach of the year, is not fazed by the prospect of taking on the relegated Bulls despite the fact that they are unbeaten in the league at Odsal this season.

“We know that Bradford are a very good side but there are no easy games in this division since the restructure,” he said. It’s getting tougher and tougher so I don’t think it really matters who we play.

“We’ve worked a bit on our shape to try make sure we’ve got the numbers right and we don’t get exposed because I thought the team got caught out a couple of times when I watched them play Dewsbury last weekend.

“We’ve also done a bit of work on the collisions to try to be a bit more dominant in that aspect of the game because Bradford have obviously got a big pack and we need to try and slow them down.

“We’ve also done a bit of work with the ball to try and get the execution better because I felt though they played well they ran out of ideas a little bit at times. But that was bound to happen playing two hookers at half-back.”

Thornton, who told The Star that he has had a good response from the players in his first two sessions in charge put his squad through their final preparations last night when young scrum-half Richard Wilkinson , who missed Sunday’s defeat at Dewsbury with a leg injury, was due to have a fitness test.

“He hasn’t trained all week and the physio thinks it might be a week too early for him so he’s probably 50-50 at best,” said Thornton who will not gamble on the half-back if he risks losing him for a longer spell by doing so.

Utility man Shaun Leaf and Steve Snitch will both be missing again and they are joined on the sidelines by another second-rower, Mike Kelly.

Thornton was due to speak to his Hull FC counterpart Lee Radford about the availability of players following their Super League game at Widnes before finalising his squad.