Doncaster RLFC: Paul Cooke backs former Hull FC teammate Richard Horne at Dons and outlines challenges he will face

Paul Cooke
Paul Cooke

Paul Cooke believes the Dons will reap the rewards as new head coach Richard Horne develops into the role.

Like Horne, Cooke was given his first head coach role by the Dons, making him well-placed to assess the task at hand for his former Hull FC team mate.

Writing in his column for the Hull Daily Mail, Cooke said: “I think for both Doncaster and Horne it’s a great move as it allows him to become his own kind of coach, play to his own structures and learn about developing players of different abilities.”

Horne will remain as a coach with Super League outfit FC around his part time role with the Dons.

And Cooke believes having the experience of Hull FC head coach Lee Radford to call upon will only benefit Horne.

He said: “He will still have the help of FC, have advice ready from many people at that club whilst he works hard to become whatever he wants to become.

“I wish him well at a fantastic well-run club.”

The two clubs remain in a dual registration agreement which was forged during Cooke’s time in charge of the Dons.

And negotiating the pitfalls of a dual reg relationship is one challenge Horne will have to quickly adapt to according to Cooke.

He said: “I have no doubt that both clubs will continue their close relationship regarding players, players on the fringe of the FC team and players from the reserves helping their dual registration partners in their quest to return to the Championship.

“The higher up the leagues Doncaster end up the more help they’ll gain from their parent club.

“Horney’s soon going to experience the difficulties of spinning the plates that part-time coaching and full-time coaching brings.

“The good thing is Lee Radford will never force his players on Horne.

“Players will be made available and should he choose not to take them in favour of remaining loyal to his own Doncaster players then that’s a decision Radford will respect.

“The balance between asking lowly-paid players to give up their time weekly, work hard after a full hard day’s work in various careers and then not play for a quality Hull player is tough to manage as I know.

“At any time Radford can pull his player back, injuries or illness to a first grade player has rippling effects for Horne and his club, who are under pressure to play and win also.”

Both Cooke and Horne were part of the Hull FC side that lifted the Challenge Cup in 2005.

Cooke believes Horne will see another side of the game following his appointment at the Keepmoat, having spent his entire career at Hull FC. A semi-professional environment could be somewhat of a culture shock.

Cooke said: “Other difficulties include part time players’ work commitments, training facilities, equipment and time constraints. All of the things that have been a part of Horne’s routine for almost two decades.

“Horne will be taken out of his natural environment and find out a great deal about himself as both a person and a coach.”