Doncaster RLFC: New-look Dons need time to gel - Welham

Liam Welham
Liam Welham

With so many new faces on view in Doncaster’s three warm-up games it has been like watching a different team.

Only four of last season’s squad started Sunday’s final pre-season game against a young Leeds Rhinos side following a massive turnover in players following relegation to League One last year.

Fortunately for the club’s hopes of bouncing straight back to the Championship this season, centre Liam Welham agreed a new deal.

“You always expect changes every year but this time around it’s very much a new-look team and obviously it will take time for us to gel,” said Welham, who swept the board at the end-of-season awards in 2015.

“Another factor is the fact that the club have signed a lot of young lads who will bring fresh legs and youthful enthusiasm and a bit of extra pace to the team but it comes at a price and that is a lack of experience at this level.

“I think that inexperience probably showed in Sunday’s game in that we lost it late on after getting back to 18-all.

“But that will come in time and the more game time they get under their belts the better players they will be.

“Another problem we’ve had in the pre-season games is that we haven’t had a regular hooker, half-backs and full-back and they are the positions you build a team around.

“Without that structure in place due to injuries it’s been difficult at times to get the cohesion we are looking for, but it’s starting to come and, for instance, play-maker Jordie Hedges now knows how I like to receive the ball.”

He added:” “It would have been nice to have ended the pre-season campaign on a winning note.

“I think some players thought it was going to be easy when they saw the Leeds team on Sunday and perhaps went out with the wrong attitude.

“But Leeds team were all good players who had come through the Leeds system and had all been well schooled.

“Our fans don’t need to read too much into the friendly results because we’ve got three or four good lads who will strengthen the team still to come in.

“When everyone is fit we’ve got strength in depth across the park and a number of versatile players who can play in several positions.

“We’ll also have had more time to concentrate on our ball work in training.

“The facilities at Cantley Park are a lot better than the ones we used last season. But apart from a couple of Saturday mornings, we’ve had to use a small floodlit pitch to work on our ball skills and tactics, which isn’t ideal because of its size, and it will be a lot better once the clocks go forward next month and we can train on the grass.”