Dons can hit the ground running - Thornton

Gary Thornton
Gary Thornton
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Doncaster RLFC boss Gary Thornton claims the club are better placed to come flying out of the blocks than at the start of last season.

The Dons, who kick-off their 2017 campaign with a first round iPro Sport Cup tie at Keighley on Sunday, go into the game having won two of their three pre-season games.

“Obviously we would have liked to have done a few things better in our final game against Hull FC,” said Thornton.

“But to be fair we had a few players out and the likes of Makali Aizue, Brad England and Jordie Hedges were all playing their first games.

“Hull also fielded a pretty strong side, especially in the first half.

“Having said that, it was still a wake-up call and that’s probably a good thing.”

England, injured in the build-up to last season, and Hodges, both played for Hull Under-23s last week against France Under-23s in a bid to boost their match fitness.

“That’s an additional plus point in our dual-registration arrangement with Hull,” said Thornton.

“Although one or two players might still be a bit off the pace, we are certainly better placed than this time 12 months ago and the only players who will be unavailable for selection on Sunday will be a couple of long-term injuries.”

Thornton, who will be selecting from a 26-strong squad, admits he faces a selection headache this week.

“It’s going to be hard and there will be players who will be disappointed not to be involved on Sunday,” he said.

“The plan is to give everyone a run-out either this week or in the Challenge Cup the week after, before the start of the league campaign against Coventry Bears on March 5th.”

The Challenge Cup third round draw takes place tonight.