Doncaster RLFC: Shaun Leaf backs Richard Horne to deliver play-off spot

Shaun Leaf
Shaun Leaf

Arguably no one at Doncaster RLFC knows head coach Richard Horne better than Shaun Leaf.

“I’ve known Rich for many years; in fact I've grown up with him," he said.

“We get on well despite the fact that I'm a Hull KR fan and obviously he's involved with Hull FC.”

The former utility back served the club well for a decade or so and is now a regular figure on the touchline on a match day.

“I just help out relaying the messages from Rich, who is sits in the stands, to the players at both home and away games,” said Leaf.

“I’d love to be a bit more involved in training and hopefully I will one day but I’ve got a full-time job and a young family to look after.

“I’ve no rugby league coaching qualifications on paper but I’m a PE teacher by trade and having spent a long time in the game as a player, and played in a number of positions, I’d like to think I know something about the sport.

“I’ve also been around at this level and played against some of the people still playing so I can give the players a bit of background about them.”

Leaf travels over from Humberside with Horne and several players on match days and says he is the right man for the job.

“It’s difficult for any coach to take over a side in mid-season because they aren’t his players whereas as this season it is Rich’s squad,” said Leaf, who worked under the likes of Ian St John Ellis, Tony Miller and Paul Cooke during his time at the club as a player.

“Rich was obviously a good player and he’s very knowledgeable and has got a very good rugby brain.

“He knows what he is talking about and he knows what he is doing. It’s just a case of everyone having to buy into what he wants.”

Despite the Dons having slumped to ninth following three defeats in four games, Leaf said: “We still got to be confident of making the top five because anything less than that would probably be regarded as a failure.

“We’ve got the right personnel at the top and we’ve got the right players when everyone is fit and if we can finish in the top five (and qualify for the play-offs) then I think we are good enough to beat anybody on our day in this league.

“It’s a tough league and we’ve got some testing games coming up against teams with a lot of experienced players.”

“What we have got to do is maintain our focus and everyone who pulls on a Dons shirt has a job to do.

“Rich wants results. If a player isn’t doing what he wants than he’s shown he’s not afraid to make changes.”