Leaf hopes to teach the Skolars a lesson

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NEW Dons skipper Shaun Leaf is hoping to lead the side to their first victory since taking charge in Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup Pool A clash at home to London Skolars.

“It will be a game that we will be looking to win but we won’t be under-estimating them,” said the long-serving centre.

“By all accounts they have recruited well and signed several players from Harlequins.”

Leaf, who says he was both ‘surprised’ and ‘honoured’ to be asked to captain the side on the eve of the new season, has again spent the close season playing rugby union for Hull Ionians.

“I played for them last season and enjoyed it,” said the Hull-based PE teacher.

“Union is a completely different game to league, although centre is one of the positions which are most similar

“I prefer league,” he said. “I’ve been playing league since I was six and it is in my blood. You are involved more. Speaking as a centre, league is more constant and you are involved all the time whereas in union that isn’t the case due to the various set pieces in which the forwards are more involved.”

Despite seeing the Dons go down 54-10 away to Featherstone in their opening game of the season Friday night, Leaf says he was encouraged by aspects of the Dons’ performance.

“It was always going to be tough going to Featherstone and picking up a result,” he said. “But I thought that there were a lot of positives to come out of the game.

“I thought that we controlled the game for the first 20 minutes and we scored a try and were unlucky not to score another before they put their first points on the board.

“Featherstone are a good side - they reached the Championship play-off final last season and they were clinical in their finishing in the first half, though I thought their 22-4 interval lead flattered them.

“They took advantage of the fact that we played a man short for the whole of the second half to run in another seven tries but our heads never went down.”

He added: “As I say we are hoping to beat London in the second of our four pool games and hopefully go on and reach the knockout stages of the competition.

“But the main priority is the league. We are wanting promotion and we are targeting a top-four finish in Championship One.”