Doncaster RLFC: Blank weekend a blessing for Dons

Kieran Cross
Kieran Cross

Doncaster RLFC’s players will no doubt welcome a weekend off as the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final takes centre stage at Wembley on Saturday.

It is the club’s first blank weekend since the end of May, although head coach Richard Horne has taken the opportunity to give players a rest from time to time to help keep them fresh for the business end of the season.

That has been easier to do in the positions where the Dons have plenty of cover either from within their squad or as a result of their dual-registration arrangement with Super League Hull FC.

The arrangement has worked well for the Dons, although Hull’s injury problems have had an impact with the likes of Liam Harris and Hakim Miloudi restricted in their availability.

Both men are proven match-winners at League One level and it is perhaps no co-incidence that the Dons lost five successive games when, between them, the two men made just one appearance.

The signing of former Keighley scrum-half Matty Beharrell has served to reduce the reliance on Harris. But with the former Hull KR man also able to operate at full-back the likelihood is that Horne will continue to use him whenever he is available, likewise the French international.

Perhaps the dual-registered player who has proved most valuable to Horne, particularly in recent weeks, is young hooker Jez Litten covering for the injured Kieran Cross. The fact that Litten, who is also quick and has an eye for a gap operating at acting half-back, is a similar sort of player to Cross has been of great help to Horne as he has not had to make tactical changes.

Cross hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury in the defeat at Workington in June that looked to rule him out until the end of September, but told The Star that he is ahead of schedule.

“Barring any problems I’m hoping to get at least a couple of games in before the start of the play-offs,” he said.