Doncaster RLFC: Cooke confident he can guide Wilkinson to the top

Richard Wilkinson scored against Hemel Stags
Richard Wilkinson scored against Hemel Stags
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Paul Cooke feels he is the perfect man to put young Dons ace Richard Wilkinson on the path to the top.

Wilkinson impressed in the Dons’ comfortable Challenge Cup triumph over Hemel Stags last weekend.

Cooke believes the 20-year-old can reach the top level – if he can be persuaded to do the right things off the field.

And he feels, given his own well-documented past indiscretions, he can provide an ideal example for Wilkinson to learn from.

“Off the field, he needs a little bit of care,” Cooke said.

“He’s one of those that if I can get hold of and work with him, I can certainly make him a top quality Championship player.

“If he keeps his head down I believe he can step up to Super League level.

“Had he turned his life around off the field he might have still be at Hull.

“But he was just a little bit too late in realising what he had to do.

“Off the field, we’ll keep an eye on him and he knows that.

“Coming down here under me in particular with some of the mistakes I made, I feel it will certainly help him and try to keep him on the straight and narrow off the field as well as trying to get him right on the field.”

The half back joined the Dons in the closed season after being released by Hull.

And Cooke thinks he has all the attributes to star in years to come.

He said: “He’s got some natural ability that can’t be coached or taken away from him, all we’ve got to do is manage him and try and make him aware of what the teams needs and what Richard needs.

“At times he’s one of those players that can play for himself and sometimes that can be detrimental.

“I was one of those players myself at Hull and Hull KR.

“You can’t stifle a player with natural ability, you just have to give him some kind of guidelines as to where to work on the field.

“There aren’t too many about with natural ability, with pace and skill.

“We’ve go to fine tune those skills.”