Dons player-coach Paul Cooke is under no illusions as to how testing this season’s Championship campaign is going to be ahead of tomorrow’s opener at London Broncos, writes Steve Hossack.
“It’s going to be the toughest yet,” said Cooke who took the club to fourth in his first season in charge last year.
“Not only have the three teams who finished above us last season strengthened, as have those who finished just below us, but two teams have also come down from Super League so we know it is going to be tough to emulate last season’s success.
“Not only are three of the Championship clubs full-time, but with the carrot of a shot at Super League being dangled in front of them, some clubs have spent a great deal of money.
“I just hope it doesn’t bring the game into some sort of financial meltdown further down the line when, having failed to reach Super League club backers decide they are not getting any return on their investment and pull out.”
Despite having a record budget at this level, the Dons have adopted more of a medium-term strategy in their recruitment with Cooke signing a number of younger players.
Although Broncos are favourites to finish in the top-four, given the number of new faces in their squad it could take them several weeks to find their feet following relegation from the top flight.
They certainly disappointed in their final warm-up when losing heavily to Championship rivals Dewsbury.
Although that result has helped boost the Dons’ confidence, their own pre-season campaign, which saw them lose all four warm-up games will not have had Broncos quaking in their boots.
Cooke has warned he will not to accept sub-standard individual displays.