Doncaster RLFC: Paul Cooke stands by retirement call

Paul Cooke

Paul Cooke

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Dons’ boss Paul Cooke has defended his decision not to come out of retirement to help ease the club’s half-back crisis.

The club have struggled to field a regular half-back partnership this season with exciting young scum-half Richard Wilkinson having played just the odd game between knee operations, and 34 year-old Cooke deciding to hang up his boots earlier in the campaign.

“It didn’t work for us when I was playing earlier in the season so why should it work any better know,” questioned Cooke yesterday. “We know where we need to strengthen and we are trying our best and we are looking to try and bring a stand-off in on a permanent basis but it’s not easy.

“We’ve identified players we’d be interested in but it’s all about their availability. There weren’t many around pre-season so you can imagine what it’s like at this stage.”

The Dons have mainly relied on loan half-backs in recent weeks but neither scrum-half Ben Reynolds, who played well for parent club Leigh last week and is expected to retain his place in the side to face Wakefield in the Challenge Cup this weekend, or Hull’s teenage stand-off Jordan Abdull, look like being available in the near future.

“We’ve obviously lost Jordan Abdull, which was a big blow to us,” said Cooke. “He’s gone back into the first team squad at Hull and he’s playing that well that he’s staying in that group which is fantastic for him and testament to how he is playing.”

“But it is obviously a blow to us because our best attacking performance of the season was when he played against Bradford and we scored seven tries.”