Doncaster RLFC head into new campaign looking to shake off 'nearly men' tag

Could this be the year for Doncaster RLFC?

By Paul Goodwin
Friday, 25th March 2022, 9:52 am
Dave Peterson is one of several new faces at Doncaster RLFC.
Dave Peterson is one of several new faces at Doncaster RLFC.

The Dons start the new season this weekend hoping to shake off their tag as Betfred League One’s ‘nearly men’.

Midlands Hurricanes, formerly known as Coventry Bears, visit the Eco-Power Stadium on Sunday (3pm).

Doncaster hope to go one better after losing to Workington Town in last season’s play-off final.

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Their promotion hopes ended at the semi-final stage of the play-offs in three of the previous four completed seasons.

This is the club’s seventh successive season in the third tier after being relegated from the Championship in 2015.

Richard Horne’s squad has undergone a winter makeover with Travis Corion, Connor Robinson, Greg Burns, Leon Ruan, Jack Sanderson, Robbie Storey and Dave Petersen among the new arrivals.

Prop forwards James Davies and Keelan Foster have also arrived this month on one-year deals.

Experienced heads Misi Taulapapa, Jason Tali and Watson Boas are among a core group of players who helped the club reach last season’s promotion final.

But several key players have also moved onto pastures new including captain Brad Foster, scrum half Matty Beharrell, forward Liam Johnson and prop Ross Peltier.

Australian scrum half Jordie Hedges also announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 26 due to injury, while Doncaster-born forward Zac Braham made a tearful exit from the club last month to focus on work commitments.

Doncaster have warmed up for the new season with victories over National Conference League sides Thornhill Trojans and Rochdale Mayfield in the Betfred Challenge Cup.

Their cup run came to an abrupt halt in the fourth round at the end of last month when Championship side Whitehaven ran out 60-0 winners at the Eco-Power Stadium.

Meanwhile, Doncaster-born centre Sam Smeaton has been named captain for the 2022 season.

“It’s a big season as we look to build on what we achieved in 2021,” said Smeaton.

"Hopefully we can get off to a good start and build from there.”