Christmas came early for Doncaster Toll Bar ARLFC youngsters when the Doncaster RLFC squad dropped in on their Prospect Road base on Saturday morning.
The Dons players, who also handed out free season tickets to under-16s for their 2018 Betfred League One campaign, arrived bright and early ready to start training at 8am despite many of them having travelled from West Yorkshire and Humberside.
Youngsters from the club’s junior teams watched head coach Richard Horne and No 2 Pete Green put the players through their paces during a 90-minute training session.
“It went very well and we had a good turnout from the juniors including the U14s who I coach, “ said Green, who came through the junior ranks at the Toll Bar club – as did current hooker Kieron Cross.
“The tots, aged between four and eight, absolutely loved it and I think what Toll Bar were impressed by was just how enthusiastic the (Doncaster) lads were.
“They did some coaching for an hour or so after they had finished training and also interacted with players and parents afterwards rather than dashing straight off. We’ve had a lot of messages in the last few days saying how great they were.”
As well as visiting the various local community clubs on selected Saturday mornings - the Dons recently travelled out to Moorends – the squad are training two evening a week at Doncaster Knights’ Castle Park complex.
“Obviously once it is light enough we’ll be going back to train at Cantley Park but until then we’ll continue to train at Castle Park which has great facilities including the new 3G pitch,” said Green.
“We have trained on the new pitch but because the club have so many teams it is always busy on the nights that we are down there.
“We are happy to train on the grass and a lot of people prefer to train on grass rather than on an artificial surface because it is easier on the joints.
“A lot of what we are doing at the moment is gym work and lots of running so it has not been vital that we get the best pitch at the moment
“Having said that, the space where we train at Castle Park is a lot better than was the case last season when we had a much smaller place near where the old clubhouse used to be,
“That wasn’t ideal but, as I say, it is much better this season and the staff are absolutely brilliant. As well as having access to the gym, we also train under the main stand where we practice skills and such things as wrestling.
“We been back in training for about a month and things are going really well – although obviously we aren’t where we need to be to start playing games.
“The players were told to take a complete rest for two to three weeks to get over the knocks and injuries that they were all carrying at the end of the season when we had a lot of battered bodies and following that they were given a personal programme to follow and they all reported back in good shape and ready to train hard.
“Time has gone really quickly and we haven’t got a lot of time before our first friendly against Hull FC in early January but we’ll be ready on the day.”