University of Gloucestershire All Golds v Doncaster RLFC: Horne rotates squad for final game of regular season
Doncaster RLFC second-rower Mike Kelly is set to make his first appearance of the year in the final game of the regular League One season away to the University of Gloucestershire All Golds tomorrow (3pm).
It will be the Doncaster-born forward’s first league outing since a knee reconstruction operation during the close season.
Three-quarter Aaron Jones-Bishop will also play his first game under new head coach Richard Horne. Veteran prop Makali Aizue returns to the side.
“It’s a case of rotating the squad to rest some players and also taking a look at some of the people I’ve not seen play,” said Horne after Thursday night’s training session.
Although Tom Carr is available again after a two-match ban, Reece Dean will again start at full-back after an impressive showing against South Wales.
“Reece played well last week and I want him to build on that form,” said Horne.
“Due to the fact he didn’t join us until mid-season I also think he needs more game time ahead of the Super 8s.”
Horne, who knows a thing or two about what makes a good half-back partnership, continues with Jack Miller and Jordie Hedges.
“I think they’ve played well in the last two games together without being really tested which I think they will be tomorrow, he said.
“I’ll be looking for signs that they are gelling as a partnership but they know if they don’t perform that there are players waiting in the wings – as is the case in other positions.”
The Dons, who can’t finish any lower than their current sixth spot even if they lose, need to beat the home side and hope that Hunslet can beat Newcastle and Workington beat York to finish fourth.
“I’d definitely take fourth spot, but I can’t see either Newcastle or York losing and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the top eight (who all qualify for the Super 8s) finish as it stands now,” said Horne.
Looking ahead to the game, Horne said: “I don’t know a great deal about them so I’ve mainly focused on ourselves this week and making sure that we do our jobs on the day and play the way we want to play. If we do that then the result should take care of itself.
“But we also know that we’ve got to go there with the right attitude or we could come unstuck.
“They are one of several sides with an outside chance of claiming eighth spot – though I can’t see Oxford beating Keighley – so they’ll have some incentive.
“I expect them to be very physical and play with plenty of energy but hopefully we’ll have enough in the tank to get the job done.”