Relegated Dons ‘will come back stronger’, vows Thornton

Gary Thornton
Gary Thornton

Doncaster RLFC head coach Gary Thornton has pledged to pull out all the stops to get the club back to the Championship as quickly as possible.

The Dons were relegated to League One at the weekend following their 28-16 home defeat against Featherstone Rovers.

Kyle Kesik has signed a new one-year deal.

Kyle Kesik has signed a new one-year deal.

Despite failing to keep the club up after taking over in early June, Thornton did enough to win himself a new one-year deal.

“I know some people will probably think that there hasn’t been the improvement that they thought there might have been,” said Thornton.

“But it was always going to be difficult coming in after the team had lost all 16 games and confidence was low.”

Thornton will continue to assess his current squad and has not written off this season. He wants to win as many of the remaining Championship Shield games as possible.

But his focus is firmly on next season.

“The plan going forward is to build a team that will not only be competitive and try and get out of League One as quickly as we can, but also have the basics for a Championship side on the back of that,” he said.

“We don’t want to be winning promotion and then have to start to build a side capable of playing at that level. The core of the team which gets us out of League One will be the core of the team back in the Championship.

“It’s not a quick fix and it’s a two or three year programme, but we want to be a really competitive Championship club again.

“I also want the chance to build my own team and for Pete Green (assistant coach) and I to introduce more of our ideas going forward.

“League One was an unknown division for me at York last season. It was a massive learning experience and I’m hoping that will stand me in good stead next season.

“I know the calibre of player we are going to need to be competitive in the division and we’ve already started to talk to players both currently at the club and those we’ve identified at other clubs.”

Skipper Kyle Kesik this week became the first player to commit himself to the club, signing a new one-year contract.

Dons’ relegation follows sixth and fourth-place finishes in the Championship.

They last played in English rugby’s third tier in 2012.