Doncaster RLFC: Richard Horne receives backing as Dons gear up for big year following promotion disappointment

Richard Horne
Richard Horne

Doncaster RLFC head coach Richard Horne has received the emphatic backing of the club’s hierarchy after promotion play-off disappointment.

The Dons were unexpectedly beaten by Workington Town at the semi-final stage, condemning them to a fourth consecutive season in League One.

Gavin Baldwin – chief executive of owners Club Doncaster – says work is already underway to ensure promotion to the Championship is achieved in 2019.

And he has thrown his support behind Horne as the man to mastermind the journey to the second tier.

“To be fair to Richard Horne I would say he’s transformed the club,” Baldwin told the Free Press.

“Sixth last year to third this year. The playing style is a lot more attractive and enjoyable to watch.

“Carl Hall (Dons CEO) has done a great job with the infrastructure behind so again we feel we’re in a position where we could get promoted. The infrastructure is there, training facilities, medical team, support staff.

“But it did hurt getting beat. We thought we were going to win and then we thought we had a good chance either through Bradford or through the subsequent game to go up.

“We genuinely feel that we’ve got the right person in Richard Horne.

“He’s been incredible. Like Grant McCann at Rovers, his positivity working across the club has been infectious.

“But we also believe genuinely that it’s been more enjoyable to watch and is a style that could work in the league above.

“We just need to give him the tools to get us there.”

Baldwin says the entire organisation will enter the next League One campaign with the mindset that it will be their last in the third tier.

And he believes the Dons are well placed to finally cross the finishing line.

“We’ve already met on the back of expecting to win asking what is going to happen next year,” Baldwin said.

“We’ve already reacted to the defeat by making signings that we would say are real statements of intent.

“But the conversation was about us wanting to get promoted and what we need to do to make that happen.

“Because of the work of people such as John Warburton in the commercial department, the Dons are making substantially more money than they were before.

“And we’re just going to put that straight into the playing budget because we don’t want to be in this league any more.

“It sounds a cliche, but we want to use the hurt of that defeat to do something about it immediately.

“We want to get the players in immediately and get out of this league. That is the clear intent.

“We don’t want to be here next year.”

Baldwin believes the 2019 season will be a glorious opportunity for the Dons with League One lacking the major powerhouses of recent years.

This year saw York and Bradford Bulls both win promotion after investing heavily, which helped them dominate the league stage of the season, while Canadian franchise Toronto Wolfpack powered their way into the Championship the previous season.

“It felt like this year we were going for one of two promotion spots,” Baldwin said.

“This year it feels there are two available.

“We know Newcastle are spending big but that will always happen.

“But we also have got a decent playing budget and we are targeting promotion with the playing budget we’ve got next year.

“The Canadian teams coming in, the American teams potentially coming in down the line – next year feels like the right year to give it a real push.”