Doncaster RLFC: Ray Green says there is plenty of young rugby league talent in Doncaster - but they need a pathway

Kieran Cross has made the step up from Toll Bar to the Dons.
Kieran Cross has made the step up from Toll Bar to the Dons.
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Local talent has played an important role in transforming Doncaster RLFC's fortunes over the last 30 years or so, writes Steve Hossack.

The likes of Askern's Kevin Parkhouse, Mark Gibbon and Alan Carr and Moorends half-back Tony Chappell all played their part in turning a club which for years had been perenial strugglers into a competitive outfit in the mid-80s to the mid-90s.

So too did such players as former Rossington duo Mark Roache and Ian Fletcher and Bentley's Audley Pennant, who made over 300 senior appearances, and John Evans - all members of the club's squad which played in the top flight in 1994-95.

But it is the Toll Bar club which has served the town club best in more recent times with Pete Green, who recently came out of retirement, Dean Colton, Craig Lawton and current joint-leading try-scorer Kieran Cross all serving the Dons well.

Although no longer involved in an official capacity, former Doncaster Toll Bar ARLFC chairman Ray Green still takes a keen interest in the amateur game.

And he claims that another exciting crop of youngsters are coming through the ranks at the Yorkshire League club.

“We’ve certainly got players in the Under-12s team that Pete (Green) runs, who I feel are good enough to go all the way and who I’d like to some of them end up with the Dons,” he said.

“But it’s not only Toll Bar, both Bentley and Moorends are producing some good juniors.

“What worries me is where all the kids who have the talent to make it in the professional game are going to go when they are 16?

“The Rugby Football League should insist that all clubs run Academy and Alliance/Reserve sides so that there is a pathway through to the first team for young players. Some sides already have them, but a lot don’t.”

Pete Green, who has led the Dons to three successive league One victories, says it is something that the coaching staff have spoken about with CEO Carl Hall recently.

Pete said: “It’s something that Carl and the club are keen to push but it’s also something that needs to be pushed by the RFL as well. There has to be a suitable competition for reserve teams.”

Green also makes a good case for the club running an Under-19 side.

“Promising 15 and 16 year olds need to be involved in a quality environment if they are going to progress, so you have to cater for them at their age-group level as they probably aren’t going to be ready to play at reserve team level.” said Pete.