Preview: Sheffield Eagles v Doncaster RLFC

Doncaster RLFC v North Wales Crusaders.  Dons' Russ Spiers (centre) is held up by two defenders.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Doncaster RLFC v North Wales Crusaders. Dons' Russ Spiers (centre) is held up by two defenders. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Paul Cooke admits Dons’ injury pile-up is turning him grey!

But he says his patched up side will be in no mood to roll over and have their ‘bellies tickled’ by rivals Sheffield Eagles on Sunday.

Cooke was down to the bare bones for last weekend’s hard earned 20-12 win at home to North Wales Crusaders - a fifth league win out of seven.

Doncaster’s player coach was frustrated with his side’s attacking performance but said it was a consequence of the club’s long list of casualties.

Nevertheless, Cooke is confident his injury-hit squad can ruffle the Eagles’ feathers this weekend as they bid to get one over the back-to-back Championship champions.

“It’s a big game for us,” said Cooke.

“It’s a derby game and the fans should expect more than what we gave them against North Wales, and rightly so.

“We’re not going there to roll over and have our bellies tickled by a Sheffield team that have won the grand final however many times.

“We’re going there to put in a performance and take that through to the rest of the season.”

Brett Waller, Liam Cunningham, Matt Carbutt, Danny Nicklas, Kyle Kesik and Mike Kelly all missed the North Wales win through injury.

Liam Welham and Ryan Wilson were left out - with Cooke turning to Hull FC quartet Ben Crooks, Joe Arundel, Jay Pitts and Liam Kent to plug the gaps.

“I spent more time on the phone last week than I did on the training field, which tells you why we’re not attacking so well,” said Cooke.

“I went greyer last week trying to arrange a team and seeing what would we could get from Hull. We’re ever-reliant on the dual-reg system.

“But I was thankful for the three points at the weekend and now we’ve got to get a team together for Sheffield.

“We’re going there for a result,” he added. “It’s not about damage limitation.”

Winger Nev Morrison was to be assessed this week after picking up a knock against the Crusaders but is expected to be fit for the trip to Sheffield’s Owlerton Stadium.

Kesik also returned to training last week and could return to the matchday squad.

Cooke, meanwhile, is hopeful that Dons fans won’t have seen the last of Crooks, who played a starring role last Sunday.

“If he’s available, I’ll certainly get the best out of him,” vowed Cooke.