Doncaster Knights: Paul Cooke pleased to be back in familiar surroundings

Paul Cooke probably never expected to be back at Castle Park after leaving his post as backs and skills coach to return to rugby League in early 2016.

Paul Cooke, left, is back at Doncaster Knights.
Paul Cooke, left, is back at Doncaster Knights.

But after helping Leigh win promotion back to Super League that year, assistant coach Cooke found himself a victim of the club's cutbacks following relegation in September.

Fortunately for Cooke, who feels he is a better coach for his experience working in the Super League, his departure from Leigh coincided with his replacement Francis Cummins taking up an offer to join Super League outfit Widnes Vikings as assistant coach.

“I did three years before I left so I certainly found it a little bit easier returning for a second time than I did when I first came with knowing some of the group and them knowing me,” he said.

“It’s just been a case of learning what’s new about the place since I was last here and getting to know the new players who have come in.

“I’d kept in regular touch with Clive and I’d kept an eye on results. But obviously I had my own job at Leigh to do without having to worry about what was going on at Doncaster.

“Francis took over from me and the players have had nothing but good things to say about the job he did and the way he coached and what he did for the group.

“As I say, there have been a few new backs come in during the 18 months I was away and the likes of Will Owen, Lloyd Hayes, Charlie Foley, Tom James and Curtis Wilson in the backs have all impressed me.

“It’s been unfortunate that players such as (full-back) Paul Jarvis and Dougie Flockhart have missed a lot of the season so far.

“It’s not for me to talk about targets for this season as I’ve not been back long, but we certainly need to right some wrongs from the first half of the season and we are steadily building towards doing that.

“We’ve had some meetings as a staff about the things we need to change and things we need to implement in the second half of the season.

“Home form is big for Knights, as it is for any club, and we’d like to have won more home games in the first half of the season.

“Our home record has made it harder for us to achieve what we want to achieve in the second half of the campaign.”